Why You Should Take Your Kids to “Carnival of Animals”

Music impacts all our lives. Elevators, shops, cars, and phones are filled with rhythms and melodies. However, we rarely take opportunities to experience the adventure of a symphony orchestra.

Attending this HSO free family concert could be one of the most unique and enriching experiences your children will ever encounter.

The Huntsville Symphony Orchestra (HSO) is presenting its annual FREE Family Concert – “Carnival of the Animals” on Saturday, February 27, 2016, in the Mark C. Smith Concert Hall in Huntsville. Pre-concert activities, including an instrument petting zoo, musical chairs, face painting, coloring, and more, start at 9:30 AM. The concert begins at 11:00 AM. This concert is a wonderful way to introduce young people to instruments and the music of a symphony. Also joining us will be friends from Fantasy Playhouse Children’s Theater and the Academy for Academics and Arts.

face paint at HSO free family concert

The Gift of Music

The experience of seeing and hearing an orchestra can and will shape a child’s life. My earliest memories are of going to the symphony (thanks Mom and Dad!). I remember watching the musicians’ fingers dancing up and down their instruments, bows waving furiously, heads bobbing, cymbals crashing, and so much more. And now, I get to be a part of all that in the HSO!
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. Even now, after years of playing, I still feel my breath catch in my throat as I walk onto the stage to play.


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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 our 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, and enriching.

musical chairs HSO free family concert


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“But My Child Is So Young!”

This concert is perfect for our wiggly and curious ones. I think you will find your children more enraptured and stimulated by the music than you could ever dream. And believe it or not, we need you there! You, as an audience, give us energy, purpose, and joy. What a pleasure to hear the squeals of delight and clapping of little hands as they experience a symphony concert!

Just as my parents took the opportunity to give me this gift of music, I now pass it on to my young children. They still sing and ask for the pieces they heard at last year’s HSO FREE concert (I kid you not!) and are counting down the days to the concert this year. I love that my children can participate and take joy in what I do. And I love watching their sweet faces completely enraptured by the music and artistry on stage. Don’t worry about wiggles and giggles either. Sit where you can see and clap when you like something or when the conductor lowers his baton.

HSO free family concert 2


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How to Get the Most Out of the Concert

Before coming to the concert, parents may want to do a couple of things.

  • Listen to the music. This year, we are playing selections from Haydn’s symphony No. 82 (The Bear), Lambert’s Mr. Bear Squash-You-All-Flat, and (my personal favorite) Saint-Saëns Carnival of the Animals.
  • Read a book – this one is perfect for this concert. My children also love Zin! Zin! Zin! A Violin.
  • After the concert is over, plan to come back! The HSO is committed to offering some amazing musical experiences for your family that you won’t want to miss! In addition to our regular concerts, the HSO offers an entertaining and interactive learning experience called Opus Tadpole. It’s completely FREE and the perfect way for youngest listeners to learn about the instruments in the orchestra! Anyone attending Opus Tadpole gets into our Sneak Previews for free immediately following Opus Tadpole.

All of this information (as well as much more) can be found at hso.org. Our community is fortunate to have this organization that wants to build up families with music. Come on this journey with us as we grow and learn together.

Ashley Poppe thumbABOUT THE AUTHOR: Ashley 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.