What do paper cat puppets, cowboy hats and programmable robots have to do with the symphony? EVERYTHING, if your music event of choice is the ESO Symphony for Kids at Edmonton’s Winspear Centre!

Symphony for Kids

Find out what cat crafts have to do with the symphony! Photo by Jill Footz

Make no mistake – this is not your Grandma’s symphony. The conductor, orchestra, vocalists and choir all still take the stage in their formal best, but that’s where the similarities end. To a person the music is still note perfect – but the mood seems just a little lighter and freer, a little more fun.

Symphony for Kids

Activities are set up all over the lobby of the Winspear Centre, photo by Jill Footz

Of course the performance is just one facet of the very special production that makes Symphony for Kids the perfect way to introduce little ones to the magic of live orchestral music. The show is shorter – our selection, “Getting to Know You – A Family Celebration of Rodgers and Hammerstein”, clocked in right around one hour, the perfect length for little ones. There are ample booster seats available, and small snacks like popcorn, water bottles, and yes parents, coffees, are welcomed into the theatre.

Symphony for Kids

A few of my favourite things! Photo by Jill Footz

The preshow activities really help make it an event to remember. Upon entering the Winspear Centre we were greeted by smiling attendants offering us paper bags and the supplies we needed to turn them into cat puppets! (What do cat puppets have to do with the symphony? Well, we can only assume Rodgers and Hammerstein were both feline fans, as kitten whiskers are predominantly described in “My Favourite Things”.)

Symphony for Kids

Help with the harpsicle. Photo by Jill Footz

The symphony “petting zoo” was among our favourite things – both my girls were tickled to get to try the harpsicle and drew a crowd of other youngsters eager for their turns.

Symphony for Kids

Photo booth fun. Photo by Jill Footz

Activities continued upstairs – the western-themed photo props and sunset backdrop, a shout out to the music of “Oklahoma!”, were well used by kids and parents alike.

Symphony for Kids

Symphony storytime. Photo by Jill Footz

A separate space set aside for storytime was also an exciting find. A Winspear Centre staff member expertly rotated between sharing a short story and giving kids a quick tutorial on how to operate ipad-controlled robots. A fresh crop of youngsters would settle in to hear her tale as their predecessors took their turns at making a half-dozen or so beeping robots spin around the room.

Symphony for Kids

Robots at the symphony, photo by Jill Footz

After the show, I asked my daughters about their favourite parts of the afternoon. “The robots” said one, while her sister preferred “the popcorn”.

My apologies, Maestro Everly – please rest assured “the performance” was second on both lists, I’m sure!

Symphony for kids

The 2019/2020 Symphony for Kids season has been announced, and dates are posted below. Choose from four performances and the pre-show fun that goes with them or purchase a season subscription starting at just $45.

  • Peter and the Wolf – Saturday, November 23, 2019
  • Beethoven’s Birthday Bash – Saturday, February 8, 2020
  • Music from All Around the World – Saturday, March 21, 2020
  • Al Simmons’ Symphonic Shenanigans – Saturday, May 2, 2020

ESO Symphony for Kids:

Where: Winspear Centre, 4 Sir Winston Churchill Square NW, Edmonton
Phone: 780-428-1414
Website: www.winspearcentre.comĀ