I want to like classical music in the same way that I want to like caviar and in the way I want to actually be able to differentiate between a $10 bottle of wine and one that costs ten times as much. Going to the symphony communicates to me a cultural affluence and worldliness that I find desirable. And if I am being totally honest, classical music pretty much always makes me cry. I find the music so raw and moving that I am usually immediately choking back tears trying not to embarrass myself in front of a crowd of unsuspecting symphony-goers. “No, sir, I don’t know why I am crying three bars into Bach, but I am, good day sir.” I am certainly not an aficionado, mostly an appreciator. I probably can’t name more than five composers, and the terminology was forgotten after my last music class in school, but I do know that music is good for the soul, and I like the way it makes me feel.
Unfortunately, my champagne, caviar, and classical music dreams are often put on hold: cue my two children, husband, full-time job, and gazillion other obligations. And while I love my life, I can’t always reconcile domesticity and culture. And let’s be honest, I get a little lazy. So, when I found out that I would be taking my three and half year old daughter and eleven month old son to the Carmel Symphony Orchestra I got a little nervous. Yes, I really want to expose them to music and art, but I also really don’t want to be that frazzled woman getting the side eye from a room full of concert-goers when her darling children are wiping boogers on the velvet theater chairs and crying through an otherwise serene adagio.
Alas, two words describe our first family symphony outing: relief and wonder. First, let me say just how family-friendly the Carmel Symphony Orchestra really was. I was visibly excited when I saw other children. In my parenting experience, misery does love company, so if my kids were going to be little heathens, at least I would have other parents with which to exchange that knowing glance. This of course was not the case, but I was nevertheless relieved. The volunteer ushers were so wonderful, making an extra effort to show my daughter her seat and tell her about the show. The bass instruments were whimsically adorned with Santa hats, and the trumpeters wore reindeer antlers. I felt welcome and at ease with my children, even more so when the conductor announced to the audience, “We love it when babies cry.” Oh thank God.
Now, back to Wonder. I mentioned that I normally cry when I hear classical music, right? Now add a sweet little girl up on her knees, craning her neck to see the musicians. Imagine an infant boy with wide eyes squeezing his mother’s arm when the tempo builds. The lights were magical, reflecting off of the mirrored ceiling. The music, conducted by David Bowden was a beautiful and seasonal arrangement of various Christmas and Chanukah songs. So yes, there were some tears. Watching my children experience something for the first time gets me in that deep down mommy place in my heart.
It wasn’t all perfect. We might have annoyed the older couple at the end of our row on our fifth potty break. My daughter had a hard time not playing with the theater seat that reminded her of a monster trying to eat her, and the kids got a little squirmy right before intermission, but all things considered, I would say it was a cultural win for the family.
Overall, we had a great time, and we will be definitely be going back on January 31st at 3pm for a special Family Fun! performance. Children will be allowed to visit the stage with the orchestra while they are playing and will be given the chance after the show to experiment with the different instruments. My daughter is already debating: harp or violin. Decisions, decisions.
What: Carmel Symphony Orchestra
Where: The Palladium
When: Multiple dates, but be sure to check out the Family Fun! Concert and Instrument Petting Zoo on January 31st at 3pm
How Much: Youth passes are just $5, and adult admission is $20
Why: David Bowden, conductor and artistic director said, “Making music changes lives.” I can’t really think of a better reason than that!
For more information visit www.CarmelSymphony.org
Creative Media Editor
A recent transplant to the Midwest, Megan still gets excited by the first snow flurries of the season. Although her husband’s job as a private school administrator brought them to the area, Megan feels more at home in Indy every day. While she isn’t chasing after her two children or working her day job as a social worker, Megan enjoys drinking craft beer, photography, playing soccer, and fantasizing about all of the Pinterest projects she will one day complete