Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Bringing Children to Classical Music

Conductor Gil Shochat, the artistic director of the Sounds of Childhood festival scheduled for the Sukkot Festival at the Holon Theater in Tel Aviv, is attempting to make classical music relevant for children. The article by Tamar Rotem in the Haaretz talks about ways in which this festival is trying to bring Classical music to children (and in return, get children to their concerts). There are programs with dance and actors working together with the music, as well as a number of performances with games and activities.

This is all good, but what about removing the stayed nature of concerts? I remember going to see "The Nutcracker" many years ago in Denver and feeling like I had to remain quiet and still for the entire performance. While I did end up liking classical music, that particular memory was anything but enjoyable. Some years later I attended my first rock concert where people where walking around, socialising, dancing and generally have a great time. The associated memories of the music are much more enjoyable.

The list of pieces to be performed include Peter and the Wolf, Toy Symphony and The Carnival of the Animals, all wonderful pieces for children. But certainly they can enjoy more serious works if they are presented in a more open environment, one that lets children be children and still allows the music to be heard. For this reason I really like concerts in parks and open air events. The Proms is a great example of a festival that appeals to a large segment of society with the idea of presenting the best possible music. Maybe it's not just for children, but if you watch the final broadcast you'll see plenty of children in the audience and they're all having a great time!

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