Outings + Activities | Family fun

Classical Kids, Part 2: Musical Adventures Beyond Benaroya

symphonyEditor's note: See also Part 1 of this series: A child's guide to Benaroya Hall

The offerings at Benaroya Hall are wonderful, but there are many other opportunities to expose your kids to the wonders of classical music. Here is a sampling.

- The Federal Way Symphony at St. Luke’s Church. Orchestra concert tickets are free for ages 18 and under with paying adult. Teens learning guitar might appreciate seeing the guitar take center stage at the "Mostly Modern" concert February 13. Music Director Brian Davenport studied in Paris with Aaron Copland’s mentor, the great Nadia Boulanger.

- The Auburn Symphony Orchestra at the Auburn Performing Arts Center. Noteworthy: "Behold the Bold Umbrellaphant," on Sunday, March 10 at 4 p.m. Famed Seattle poet Jack Prelutsky will narrate his award-winning book Behold the Bold Umbrellaphant, with live music in Lucas Richman’s original score.

- Northwest Sinfonietta, plays at Tacoma’s Rialto Theater, Puyallup’s Pioneer Park Pavilion, and in Seattle at Nordstrom Recital Hall at Benaroya, offering high-quality performances with innovative conductor Christophe Chagnard.

- Seattle Chamber Music Society, at Benaroya’s Nordstrom Recital Hall, features a children’s concert during both its Winter Interlude series (late January) and its Summer Festival. .

- University of Washington School of Music, has many fine ensembles and bargain prices, including their annual “Spooky Organ Classics” at Kane Hall on Saturday, October 27. 

- Going for Baroque? Or maybe Renaissance or Medieval? Seattle’s Early Music Guild has school programs with shawms and sackbuts and such unexpected instruments. Or check out Early Music America’s local vielle player Shulamit Kleinerman’s ensemble.

- Simple Measures is a family-welcoming classical music series with Seattle Symphony-level performers in small ensemble pieces, performing all around the Seattle area in venues like neighborhood community centers. They talk, they take questions, and the youngest audience members are often sitting on the floor just a few feet away from the cellist or violinist. It's a classical music newcomer's delight, child or adult! See the group at Mt. Baker Community Center in February; downstairs at Town Hall and at Good Shepherd Center in April.

- With the Tacoma Symphony Orchestra, a good pick for families is an October 20 concert at the Pantages Theater, with personality-packed pianist Leon Bates doing jazzy Gershwin, dreamy Debussy, and something intriguing called "Green Flash."

- Watching young musicians emerge into symphony players is an inexpensive and beautiful way to discover classical music. Seattle Youth Symphony Orchestra (SYSO) performs concerts both great and small, with a proven track record going back generations. According to cellist Dave Beck, SYSO alum and KUOW radio personality, “SYSO and its outreach program in West Seattle schools is doing new work in integrating entire families into the musical education process.”

- Tacoma Youth Symphony is bringing a couple of outstanding professionals to solo in some of their concerts: Darrett Adkins, cellist, on November 11; Sean Osborn, clarinet, on March 3. These concerts challenge young musicians (and parents who might not be "into" classical), and these two soloists should be great to watch. And just going to the Rialto Theater is valuable.

- Another good choice is Tacoma Youth Symphony's "A Night at the Movies" costume concert on October 28, with fun movie music. a chance to connect familiar tunes with the instruments that make them.

- Outside the concert hall,  Classical KING FM (98.1) has launched a one-minute “Exploring Music” feature every weeknight at 6 p.m. Lisa Bergman introduces a piece. Then host Sean Maclean follows up by playing the whole thing.

Seattle writer Gigi Yellen's children grew up sharing her with radio audiences as she hosted, interviewed, and wrote about classical music for KUOW and Classical KING FM. She introduced ParentMap readers to Seattle Symphony Music Director Ludovic Morlot in our "Someone You Should Know" feature back in January.

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