We had a fantastic and musical family outing this morning (ahhhh, the legitimate thee-ater, as Homer Simpson might say :-) The husband, kids and I skipped regular Saturday swimming lessons in favour of one of the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra's deservedly popular and engaging MSO Kids concerts.
This performance featured Norwegian "clownductor" Peter Vabog, who performs as clown Melvin Tix. His 27 years of creating fun, interactive musical events for young children were fully on display as he led the MSO musicians through a really enjoyable program.
My children all enjoyed different aspects of the show. My 6 year old liked the parts where Melvin played his little trumpet and conducted the orchestra. My 2 year old loved it "when the clown was silly an' knocked hisself on the bottom with the stick" (a reference to an amusing section where Melvin got four adults to come up and play hollow sticks by hitting them on their body parts). My 8 year old's favourite part was the introduction of each instrument (she was fascinated hearing the instruments played individually and then together, remarking how different they sounded).
The performance went 50 minutes, which was fine for Miss 8, OK for Miss 6, and probably a touch long for Miss 2 (who, nonetheless, sat for it all and was still chirpy at the end). I think it's a perfect length of the target age range (3-8) and will satisfy them without stretching the friendship too far.
We are not an especially devoted classical music family - husband and both big girls learn guitar, but are playing folk and rock music rather than classical even in that arena. This concert, and the consummate skill of the MSO, has sparked an interest in classical music in the 8 year old (we are listening to Brahms right now) and a speculative acquisition of the 2012 program for husband and I, who are thinking we might try to get to a few performances next year.
All in all, a warm, fun, and interactive way to spend a family morning, and such a treat to hear lovely music presented unpretentiously and in an engaging way for very young children. I cannot recommend this highly enough, and I know we'll be taking the family to an MSO Kids performance again.
Disclosure: I received complimentary tickets to this performance for review purposes courtesy of the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra. No financial payment was offered nor accepted for this post. All opinions expressed are purely my own.
Surrender to the Day.
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