We love music in our house, all sorts of music, but nothing beats a live performance. Whether it’s a rock concert or folk music or drumming (I love the Kodo drummers) nothing can beat the impact a live performance can make. And I’m not just speaking about me as an adult; our kids love live music also. We were fortunate enough to be invited to the Toronto Symphony Orchestra‘s recent family concert The Bear as part of our 25 Days of Christmas activities.
The performance consisted of two parts. The opening consisted of a screening of the animated film The Bear (from the same creators of The Snowman). Behind and above the orchestra were two screens that the movie played on. Not only did the orchestra accompany the film, but the story was narrated live and the character parts were sung. It was incredible how hearing the live music and voices just brought the whole film to life; my kids were crying during parts, both happy and sad tears. I forgot how wonderful the acoustics are in Roy Thomson Hall.
After the film there was a brief intermission. As this was a family concert there was an organized craft activity in the lobby. The Young People’s Concert series usually has a small concert before a performance giving kids a chance to see and hear instruments up close. I love how the conductor and host of the performance is also very approachable with the kids, talking to them and keeping them entertained. Those in attendance also know the concert’s for kids so there’s no worry if your child gets a little fidgety; the person next to you isn’t going to hush you every minute. During The Bear, the Avenue Road Art School was running the craft activity. They had tables set-up all over the lobby. The kids could colour and glue paper on a small cardboard square, creating a habit for a polar bear that they would create out of modeling clay. This activity was great for kids of all ages. My 4-year old was having as much fun as my 8-year old and even older kids at the same table as us. And the kids could take their craft home with them (though ours didn’t last long and the polar bears were changed into snowmen and other things before the night was through).
The second half of the performance was just as much fun. The orchestra, now joined by The Bear and young Tilly, took us on a trip around the world by the way of Christmas music. We visited Paris, Austria, Ukraine, Africa, Paraguay and returned to Canada. With each piece the conductor gave the audience a little background information on the music and the screens above showed images of the country or the people dancing. Some pieces, like when they played songs from The Nutcracker Suite, they had dancers compliment the music on stage. I think my kids enjoyed that most. I think I’ll have to plan a visit with my 8-year old to see The Nutcracker next Christmas; I think she would really enjoy it and I have never seen it performed live either.
The Toronto Symphony Orchestra did a great job entertaining young and old alike. If you’re looking to expose your kids to live music this holiday, the Toronto Symphony has other festive concerts planned. Or perhaps one of their other Young People’s concerts. They really are great and it’s wonderful to see how much enjoyment kids get from attending. This was a perfect addition to our 25 Days of Christmas activities.
How are you celebrating the Christmas season with your family? See what we’ve been up to for our 25 Days of Christmas.