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by Cynthia Tavlin


Make no mistake: Taking a 3-year-old to a classical music concert is hard work. Really hard work if you consider the preemptive bathroom trips before curtain time, naptime adjustments, and constant admonitions to “use an inside voice.” The effort is worth it, however, once the lights dim and The Little Orchestra Society (LOS) takes the stage for a Lolli-Pops Concert, a rare cultural offering perfectly suited to the pre-school set. Launched 15 years ago, the popular series offers 3- to 5-year-olds a simple introduction to classical music. Parents hoping to expose their kids to more advanced fare may want to wait for LOS’ Happy Concerts for Young People, a repertoire for 6- to 12-year-olds that features Prokoviev’s Peter and the Wolf and Gian Carlo Menotti’s Amahl and the Night Visitors. The Orchestra-A Happy Family concert, which I had the opportunity to attend last fall, was gleeful, happy, and intent on pleasing its young audience by any means necessary, including incorporating an appetizing sweet shop theme into the production. What pre-schooler is going to object to a concert featuring oversized candy canes, or where giant gumdrops double as timpani drums? The kids loved it, by the way. Running under an hour, each concert is hosted by Mr. Maestro (Little Orchestra’s music director Dino Anagnost), who is assisted by four animal characters that each representing a different section of the orchestra — Bow the Panda (strings), Toot the Bird (woodwinds), Buzz the Bee (brass), and Bang the Lion (percussion). Following the introduction of each section, the Little Orchestra Society plays familiar songs children can sing along with, such as “I’ve Been Working on the Railroad”, “Wheels on the Bus” ,and “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star”. Brief excerpts from The Nutcracker, Tchaichovsky’s Waltz Serenade for Strings, and the William Tell Overture were also performed. Just as young audience members start to get restless, interactive components are introduced into the program — Mr. Maestro will ask audience members to “buzz your lips like a brass instrument.” The lights go on and the concert concludes with the distribution of peppermint sticks, which children are encouraged to bring onstage to help conduct the orchestra. “Don’t eat it, don’t eat it! Use the candy to play music,” urged several adults to their young charges, who were intent on consuming their treat. Once again, the hard work resumes.

Info: Where: Lolli-Pops Concerts are held at The Kaye Playhouse at Hunter College, 68th Street between Park and Lexington Avenues When: Winter Series of Lolli-Pops Concerts kick off January 11 & 12 with A Musical Toy Store, and continue March 15 & 16 with Up, Up And Away With The Woodwinds, and April 5 & 6 with Music Tells A Story. Concert times are 10:30am & noon on Saturday, and 1pm & 2:30pm on Sunday. Admission: Tickets are sold in a three-concert subscription series only, at $99 apiece. Note: Parents who want to prime their kids prior to the performance can view a live concert, The Orchestra-A Happy Family, now available on video and DVD. For more info: (212) 971-9500; www.littleorchestra.org


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