February 29, 2016

Symphonic Weekend

The local symphonic orchestra and ballet company held a free, first come/first serve family event this past weekend. The concert didn't start until 11 a.m., but the doors opened for family friendly activities at 9:30. Music has always been a big part of my life, and the girls have been showing interest in musical instruments and learning to play. So Hubby and I thought we'd get everyone up early and see if we could snag seats.

We were running a few minutes behind, so we decided to handle an errand we'd planned to run before the concert afterward. It's a good thing we did because the place was packed! If we hadn't rearranged our plans, we may very well have made the twenty-seven mile trip, one way, for nothing otherwise.

Give Sneak a violin, and she's all smiles.

Stations were set up all around the theater lobby. They had a booth where you could learn how to conduct, an "instrument petting zoo," face painting, hula hoops, musical chairs, a coloring booth, photo ops, dancing scarves, and more. 

Cinderella's carriage has seen better days.

The girls had a blast. We nearly had to pull them away from the "instrument petting zoo," and then Boo Bear fell in love with playing musical chairs. Sneak got bored after a game or so and wanted to make sure she explored everywhere. So Hubby stayed to keep an eye on Boo, and I took Sneak around to explore. She gave conducting a whirl, played some percussion instruments, had her photo taken in Cinderella's carriage, and played with the dancing scarves. Then we met back up and found some seats.

Boo Bear was excited to see the show.

Sneak, ever the explorer, soon grew bored with watching the musicians warm up and wanted to go back out to make sure she didn't miss anything. However, the theater was starting to become crowded, and I was afraid we wouldn't be able to find seats together if we gave up the ones we had. So I started pointing out different features of the concert hall's design and different instruments to distract her the few minutes until the concert began.

View of the hall from the stage, taken by symphony staff fifteen minutes before the show began.

Once the lights went down and the music began, the girls were entranced. The symphony played their first couple of pieces without accompaniment, but it wasn't long before the ballet group began sharing the stage. They used clever, minimalistic puppetry and costuming to bring the characters to life. The theme of this particular concert was animals, which is just perfect for the ten and under set.

Mr. Hedgehog enters during, "Mr. Bear Squash You All Flat."

In different parts of the concert, dancers came down into the audience or entered from the back of the theater, allowing the children to see them up close. Between songs, the conductor stepped off his podium and led the audience in music making with simple instruments provided at one of the booths in the entrance or just drumming on their laps. A couple of the puppets, fish puppets to be exact, thrilled the audience by producing bubbles as they "swam" down the main aisle of the theater.

The concert itself only lasted an hour, just long enough to have the kids leave still on a high from the show without growing bored. We made it back to the car, ran our errand, and grabbed a quick bite to eat before the lunch rush was in full swing. Then we went back home, pleased and grateful for having had such a nice morning out.

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