Symphony Hall, Birmingham is a fabulous venue showcasing artists from all genres, but did you know they also hold Family Concerts four times a year? Having never taken my 6 year old to a more ‘adult’ venue such as this, when we were offered the chance to review the Autumn Family Concert ‘Dance Around the World’ we were keen to get involved.
Family Concerts take place in the heart of Birmingham City Centre at Symphony Hall and the location is easy to get to with good transport links and lots of (all be it a little pricey!) parking. Symphony Hall has one or two coffee venues and is also next to Brindley Place so there are lots of child friendly eateries if you wanted to combine the concert with a meal.
On arrival, once we had selected our CBSO Character sticker (these characters appear throughout the concert!) we quickly got involved in one of the art activities (on offer an hour before the concert) and set about making our own spinner. There were lots of people around and we had to squeeze into a place at the table but everyone was very friendly and there was a lot of sharing of resources from all the children. After we had completed our spinner, we made it upstairs in time to see some dance from local students. The students were really good with the children and lots of the little ones were keen to get involved…
After all this excitement, we were keen to see what the concert had in store. When we entered into Symphony Hall my daughter had a big grin on her face – we have been to the theatre before but this really was something else…there was great excitement upon spotting the harp and we started to chat about what other instruments might appear. There is also a programme avaliable (£2.50) which supports the concert with lots of child-friendly activities based around each pieve of music (it also lists both composer and title of each piece which was great for following up the music from the concert once we got home…).
The City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra (CBSO) were all geared up for their audience; dressed in colour coded t-shirts it was easy to tell each section apart and the atmosphere was one of purposeful and relaxed fun from the outset…
With the help of our presenter Catherine and conductor Michael Seal, we took to our ‘rockets’ and flew our way round the world as we explored music from 12 different countries. With some music more familiar (such as the Hornpipe or Can Can) and others newly introduced, the children were all able to explore the music as they wished. Through the use of images projected on the screen above there was lots of encouragement to dance when we felt like it. There really is a lovely atmosphere in the Hall and children are gently coached through each piece of music – this time, with a theme of ‘Strictly Come Dancing’ which my daughter (who has recently been allowed to stay up a little later to watch) was thrilled about.
The concert lasts an hour which is perfect to ensure that children are engaged and involved. With a different theme each time I would certainly look into booking again, tickets are £12 each so this would be a treat for ‘Mummy and Daughter’ in our house but there were lots of little ones there from ‘babes in arms’ to pre-school age children and because of the family atmosphere, everyone was very much welcome!