They’ll Hear It Here First
High culture for the short set.
The great thing about taking children to concerts is that they have no prejudices, no weariness of standard repertoire or fear of unknown territory. The less great thing is that feeding their curiosity can get expensive: Kids need to sit close to be absorbed. Watching La Bohème from the Met’s stratospheric Family Circle, for example, is a recipe for boredom. Fortunately, Juilliard presents free and often excellent concerts by its student groups, and the People’s Symphony Concerts (pscny.org) are the best deal in town.
The Mostly Mozart Festival has grown up in recent years, but there’s no reason a 10-year-old can’t be stirred by Mozart’s overture to Le Nozze di Figaro or by the grandeur of his Piano Concerto No. 25 in C major (August 6). And it’s hard not to be swept along by the galloping third movement of Beethoven’s Symphony No. 7 (August 12).
In September, Carnegie Hall and the New York Philharmonic divide up the labor of a huge tribute to Leonard Bernstein, whose televised Young People’s Concerts introduced a generation of children to symphonic music. (Go to carnegiehall.org for details.) The Encores! series at City Center will also present his irresistible On the Town (November 19 to 23). Bernstein was indifferent to genre, and so is the string quartet Ethel, which presents “TruckStop: The Beginning,” a program of music and friends the group has collected on its cross-country travels. There’ll be a Texan accordionist, a Hawaiian slack-key guitarist, a bluegrass banjo player, and a Native American flutist at the party. (Brooklyn Academy of Music, October 14 and 16 to 18.)
The Philharmonic opens its subscription season (September 18) with arms open to the preteen audience: Ravel wrote the piano version of his Mother Goose suite for two performers ages 8 and 10 (though the orchestral version taxes grown-up pros), and Steven Stucky’s brief Rhapsodies is geared to a modern attention span. Older siblings will be equally riveted by Bartók’s swashbuckling and steamy ballet score, The Miraculous Mandarin. Just hide the program notes.