The Chicago Symphony Orchestra is full of world class musicians and boasts a conductor that is unparalleled. The CSO puts on a wide-ranging amount of shows that are consistently in depth and engaging. Because of this, the audience the symphony attracts is a sophisticated one that has very high tastes. Of course, I am referring to the 3 to 5 year olds at the Once Upon a Symphony program.
The Once Upon a Symphony program is one of the numerous programs the CSO puts on for the betterment of music. Presented in collaboration with the Chicago Children’s Theatre, this program is intended for the youngest of music aficionados (ages 3-5) with actual members of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra performing. It is an amazing way to introduce young children to the world of classical music.
Once Upon a Symphony weaves together live music, storytelling, costumes and images to create a unique musical experience for children. Concerts are performed in Buntrock Hall, with special cushions on the floor designed to get children involved in the performance. The show is interactive and gets the children to sing, dance and imagine along with the storytellers. In addition to musicians and storytellers, there are volunteers on hand to help the children dance and sing along with the program.
The performance this month was the story of Stone Soup with the theme of sharing. A hungry traveler arrives at a village where everyone is selfish. Not only do the villagers refuse to come out of their houses, but the music they play does not sync up and sounds horrible. To teach the villagers to share the traveler begins to make a huge pot of “stone soup.” One by one, the villagers contribute to the broth and find musical harmony as they enjoy the most delicious soup they have ever tasted.
The instruments were woven into the story, with each of the townsfolk contributing something to the soup as well as contributing musically to the song. The bass helped stir the soup with a magnificent bass line, the flute added salt & pepper by adding rhythmic notes, the French Horn contributed veggies and melody while the violin finished the dish off with chicken and a brilliant musical flourish. The lesson being that when everyone shares, beautiful things can happen. It was both a wonderful lesson and a great musical introduction for the kids in audience.
After the performance, the children were invited to meet the musicians to get an up-close look at the set and props. Also after the show there were instructors on hand for what they called a “instrument petting zoo.”
The children were allowed to look at and even hold/play several instruments including flute, cello and violins. For any child with a fascination of music, it was a great way to spend an afternoon.
These concerts are intended for children to develop a love of music in a fun setting with familiar stories. It is a great way to immerse a child into the world of the Chicago Symphony while keeping them entertained and engaged. Education is best when it is fun.
For more information about the Once Upon a Symphony click here
Photos provided by the Chicago Symphony, Todd Rosenberg Photography and K. Joseph Fotos