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Ionarts Kids: Fall Calendar

Photo by Charles T. DowneyPeople ask me all the time about performances for children, and this new "Ionarts Kids" feature is a way to make this sort of information available to everyone. Over the years our children, Master Ionarts and Miss Ionarts, have gone with me to review most of the children's concerts in the area. They have enjoyed all of them, and yours probably will, too.

Washington National Opera's Family Look-In is coming up later this month (October 16, 2 pm). In recent years this event has presented a kids-length excerpt of one of the operas in production, with some of the company's Domingo-Cafritz Young Artists as the cast. This year's performance includes excerpts from The Magic Flute, Lucia di Lammermoor, and Madama Butterfly -- none of which are on the stage this season -- woven into a story about four children who get lost in an opera house.

For the youngest children, ages 3 to 5, we recommend the series of Teddy Bear Concerts, performed by members of the National Symphony Orchestra in the Kennedy Center Theater Lab: the next one is coming up soon (October 23, 11 am and 1 pm). The programs of this sort we have heard were short, selections of ear-pleasing music with a fun story to string them together. Go early or stay after the concert for the Instrument Petting Zoo run by NSO volunteers, where kids can hear what instruments sound like and give them a try. For older kids, we recommend the NSO's Family Concerts, which are in the Kennedy Center Concert Hall: the next one is the annual Halloween program of spooky music (October 31, 1 and 3 pm). Of course, costumes are expected.

available at Amazon
N. Stookey / L. Snicket, The Composer Is Dead
(book with recording by San Francisco Symphony)
We have also made the trip up to Baltimore's Meyerhoff Symphony Hall for the kids' concerts presented by the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra. Their next program is also for Halloween, a performance of Lemony Snicket's The Composer Is Dead, an ingenious introduction to the orchestra in the form of a murder mystery (October 30, 11 am). All of us really enjoyed this piece when the NSO played it last spring.

Introducing kids to ballet with Tchaikovsky's Christmas-time classic is a December tradition. The big one is Septime Webre's Washington-based version the story, presented every year by the Washington Ballet at the Warner Theater (December 2 to 26). Miss Ionarts and I both loved it. The Kennedy Center also usually hosts a visiting company's production of the ballet, with the Pennsylvania Ballet last year and the return of the Joffrey Ballet this year (November 24 to 28), in the Kennedy Center Opera House. Sarah Kaufman, who reviewed the Joffrey Ballet production the last time it was here, in 2008, said that it "makes a resounding case that The Nutcracker is -- dare I say it -- a perfect ballet." For very small kids or children you think might not make it through the whole ballet, which is pretty long, try the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra's program of excerpts, with dancers from the Baltimore Ballet (December 4). For holiday concerts, try the kid-friendly performances of the Cathedral Choral Society's holiday program (December 10 and 11), the Choral Arts Society of Washington's Family Christmas Concert (December 18), and a Christmas-themed program by the Vienna Boys Choir at George Mason in Fairfax (December 18 and 19).

The Candlelight Concert Society has a series of performances for kids. Although we have never reviewed any of them, the offerings sound good: a Sleeping Beauty from the National Marionnette Theater (November 21) and a musical version of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by TheatreWorksUSA (December 12). Opera Lafayette has been giving family performances of some of its programs of historical music, with Clérambault's La Muse de l’Opéra featured this year (November 13), involving the participation of some D.C. public school students, at the Atlas Performing Arts Center on H St. NE. Also at the Atlas, the Capitol City Symphony offers a family concert called The Case of the Missing Melody (November 14), with an Instrument Petting Zoo. See also the list of family programs at the Kennedy Center, some of which do not include classical music.

We do not recommend this for little kids, but for teenagers who have an interest in music and are ready for some full-length concerts, the National Philharmonic offers free tickets for kids (under 18) when accompanied by an adult.

Please feel free to add any child-friendly classical music or opera events not listed here in the comments section.


Charles T. Downey said...

I forgot this one --

October 16, 8 pm
Family Weekend Concert, with the University of Maryland Choirs at the University of Maryland's Memorial Chapel

Charles T. Downey said...

Also, this sounds great --

October 17, 11:30 am
Max Linder Celebration [FREE]
Screening of short films for kids
With live music by Octuor de France
National Gallery of Art