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Montreal Families

Introducing kids to classical music

A few years ago, my then 9-year-old daughter attended her first classical music concert as part of a school outing. She was already familiar with this genre as I often played classical music while making dinner and she had played pieces by Bach and other composers as part of her piano lessons. But nevertheless, she seemed deeply impressed and moved by the concert put on by the Montreal Symphony Orchestra. She talked about the sounds of the different instruments and how the hall had been filled with music. A few weeks later, her face lit up when I put on a recording of the famous classical guitar piece Concierto de Aranjuez by Joaquin Rodrigo. “Mommy, they played that piece — it was so beautiful,” she said.

I shouldn’t have been surprised by her pleasure. I started attending symphony performances with my dad, a classical music fan, when I was in my late teens. I remember being swept up in the beauty of the sound. But somehow arranging to take my kids to see such concerts had fallen by the wayside as I got caught up with the demands of work and family life.

Recently, I decided to research family-friendly concerts and discovered that there are many affordable options available around Montreal. And many of them include a question-and-answer period or time to meet with the musicians, so everyone can learn a bit more about the music. Here are some options for families wanting to introduce their little ones to the world of classical music:

Montreal Symphony Orchestra (OSM)

This fall, the city’s premier orchestra will begin performing at a new concert hall in Place des Arts. This is a great opportunity for families to discover the “Children’s Corner” series, lively concerts that combine music, storytelling and special effects to hold the attention of little ones.

On Sunday, November 20 at 1:30 p.m., they will present music inspired by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s novel The Little Prince (the narration will be in French only). Then on Sunday, March 4 at 1:30 p.m., musicians will take listeners on a journey through time to meet famous composers such as Bach, Mozart and Beethoven in the bilingual production called Abachadabra.

Tickets for the shows start at $14 for children and $18 for adults.

For more information, call (514) 842-9951 or to purchase tickets online, go to www.osm.ca.

Bach Before Bedtime

Now in its fourth season, this innovative series makes classical music accessible to even toddlers and babies by offering short, 45-minute concerts in the late afternoon. There is no fixed cost but families are encouraged to make a $15 donation. Organized by Allegra Chamber Music, the performances also include time for little ones to meet the musicians and examine the instruments.

The first concert is Thursday, October 27 from 4:30 p.m. to 5:15 p.m. at McGill University’s Redpath Hall, 3461 McTavish St. There are four other concerts to be held on November 24, February 9, March 8 and May 3. Seating is limited so families are asked to reserve in advance by emailing allegra1@videotron.ca.

For more information, call (514) 935-3933 or got to www.allegrachambermusic.com.

Jeunesses Musicales Canada (JMC)

This Montreal non-profit organization hosts classical music performances for families on Sundays. Shows usually feature narration (in French) and music. There are two performances: a shorter, 40-minute one for ages 3 to 5 at 11 a.m. and a 55-minute show at 1:30 p.m. for ages 6-12. Tickets cost $8.50 per person, but subscriptions are available for $30 (four shows) or $50 (seven shows) per person. The season kicks off on October 2 with Annabelle Canto, the story of a young opera singer who loses her voice right before a concert — and then sets off to find it again. The performances take place at 305 Mont Royal Ave., in the Plateau.

For the complete schedule, visit www.jmcanada.ca or call 514 845-4108.

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