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HSO Free Family Concert “Carnival of the Animals”

HSO Free Family Concert “Carnival of the Animals”

Live orchestral music! Puppets! Silly animals! Huntsville families have the rare opportunity to treat themselves to the Huntsville Symphony Orchestra’s annual Free Family Concert, Carnival of the Animals. This year, Covid-19 safety measures have been added to ensure CDC guidelines are met, and NEW take-home HSO goodie bags will be given to each child.

This concert is appropriate for all ages – it lasts approximately one hour so it is a great way to introduce young people to the instruments and music of a symphony, while still allowing the seasoned symphony-goer to enjoy great music.

Presented in collaboration with Huntsville M.E.T. & Fantasy Playhouse Children’s Theater and Academy this performance is among the most beloved of children’s pieces for the orchestra. Saint-Saëns’ Carnival of the Animals presents the double bass as an elephant, the clarinet as a cuckoo, and an ensemble of shimmering strings and undulating pianos as an aquarium brimming with colorful fish. It’s a marvelous way to introduce young people to the instruments of the orchestra when paired with the dazzling, larger-than-life puppetry of Huntsville M.E.T.

HSO flyer for free family concert

Getting Ready for the Concert

This might be your child’s first orchestral music experience! Before coming to the concert, you may want to do a couple of things with your kids. Ashley Poppe, a former violinist with the Huntsville Symphony Orchestra, and a local mom, has some great tips for parents.

Listen and engage your children with music.
Listen to parts of Carnival of the Animals at home before the concert. One thing I like to do to encourage creativity in the minds of my children is to put on music and color with crayons or colored pencils. You can have them use colors for instruments or sounds or dynamics or rhythms. Does this sound red or blue or green? Does this sound like lines or circles? Sometimes, we even dance around the table while coloring. Be creative and make music an interactive experience! Involve their senses.

Read a book on the instruments of the orchestra.
I like Meet the Orchestra if you happen to have little ones who have never been to a symphony concert before.

Attending this FREE HSO concert could be one of the most unique and enriching experiences your family will ever encounter. All different kinds of musicians come together, and when the conductor, Gregory Vajda, stands on that podium and waves his baton, something magical happens. Our differences melt away, and our many voices become one powerful, penetrating voice which brings to life the melodies of great composers, past and present. We are a part of something great. We create something beautiful, powerful, engaging, exhilarating, enriching, and uniting. And you can be part of that too!

Keep learning after the concert is over.
After the concert is over, come back to hear more music! The HSO is committed to offering beautiful musical experiences for your family that you won’t want to miss. One of my personal favorites is an entertaining and interactive learning experience called Music Explorers Club (formerly known as Opus Tadpole). It’s completely FREE and the perfect way for youngest listeners to learn about the instruments in the orchestra! Anyone attending the Music Explorers Club gets into our Sneak Previews for free immediately following the program. Check back this Summer for those events starting back up post-Covid.

HSO also has an amazing Classical concert Saturday night featuring the music of  Mozart. All of this information and more can be found at Our community is fortunate to have this organization that wants to build up families full of creativity and beauty with music.

Hearing a live symphony appeals to your senses, grabs your heart, and takes hold of your soul in a way that watching or listening to a recording simply cannot. Don’t you want your kids to experience that?

HSO offers several other programs for aspiring young musicians. The Symphony School of the Huntsville Symphony Orchestra offers small group and private violin lessons as well as private cello lessons.  They even have four levels of classes for adults.  The Symphony School regularly holds Master Classes with guest artists for the Classical Concert Series, and has an annual Violin Summer Camp with Burritt on the Mountain.

See Also

HSO Family Concert Details

What: Huntsville Symphony Orchestra’s 2021 Free Family Concert
When: Saturday, February 27 at 11:00 AM – Noon
Cost: FREE | Reserve your seat here after Feb. 8th | Livestream here
Location: Mark C. Smith Concert Hall (map)
View Website | HSO on Facebook | HSO on Instagram

Covid-19 Safety Guidelines
The HSO is doing everything they can to make this year’s FREE Family Concert safe for you and your families. Help them make this special event as safe as can be by wearing a mask or face covering and ensuring that your children are too.

Per the state of Alabama’s Safer At Home order, they require that each person attending the concert wears a mask or facial covering that covers their nostrils and mouth at all times, including during the performance. Children under 6 or not yet in the second grade are not subject to this requirement.

In addition to requiring facial coverings, they are sanitizing the concert hall after each rehearsal and performance, reducing the audience capacity to allow for socially distanced seating, and have placed sanitizing stations throughout the hall for your convenience. Out of an abundance of caution, they have replaced the traditional FREE Pre-Concert Activities with FREE take-home activity bags. Please ensure that the items inside are age-appropriate for your children. While we will all miss HSO’s usual activities, your little ones will love taking their goodie bag home and unpacking all the surprises inside!

Ashley Poppe thumbAshley Poppe is a violinist with the Huntsville Symphony Orchestra. Her degrees are in Suzuki pedagogy and violin performance from the Cleveland Institute of Music. She spends her time performing, teaching, and playing with her children.

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