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Teddy Bear Concert

Photo by Charles T. DowneyIt seems like only yesterday that I was taking Master Ionarts to his first children's concert at the Kennedy Center. How can it really be time to take little Miss Ionarts for her first visit to the concert hall? Of the many excellent events for children hosted by members of the National Symphony Orchestra, the Teddy Bear Concerts are the ones aimed at the youngest crowd, ages 3 to 5 (with stuffed animal in tow). They even let Jens in two years ago, with a stuffed bear named Gilligan.

What we heard on Saturday morning was one of the better children's programs in my experience, a concert designed by the Imagination Duo -- Glenn Donnellan, a violinist with the NSO, and his wife, Jan Chong, who also plays and teaches violin. It was just the right combination of serious music (Dvořák's Humoresque, Flight of the Bumblebee, Rossini's William Tell overture), props, child involvement, and whimsy. The large audience (all three performances of the program reportedly sold out) was treated to some instruction about how to hold the violin and what some of its parts are called, as well as getting to react to the music vocally and physically. This was not only about sitting down and being quiet, although the kids were all quite well behaved.

Upon reflection, Miss Ionarts said she most enjoyed the involvement of various stuffed animals on the stage, some of whom entered with the performers. Her favorite musical number accompanied the story of a canary, a stuffed bird attached to the neck of Donnellan's violin, who searched for another canary and found one in a tree. She also enjoyed hearing everyone make bee sounds, which led into the most difficult number on the program, the Flight of the Bumblebee. In a brilliant move that encouraged the children in the audience to picture themselves learning to play, the duo's demonstration of how to hold the violin turned into a family concert of another sort. The couple's young son and even younger daughter came onto the stage to play on a small violin and tiny cello, in two numbers with their parents. We hope the kids are getting union scale.

The next Teddy Bear Concerts are scheduled for May 3 and 10. The family programs offered by the NSO includes events for children of all ages.


Mark Barry said...

aawww, she's a sweetie. Hold on tight, it goes way too fast! I want mine back..

Charles T. Downey said...

It's terrible, isn't it. I already miss the version of her from six months ago. You wish you could just keep an archived copy of the kid saved about every six months or so.

Anonymous said...

I believe there is a family of monkeys that also frequents concerts in the Washington DC area...