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A Young Person’s Guide to the Chamber Orchestra

Park Slope church fills with kid-friendly sound.


What began as a Park Slope pastor’s idea to bring free music to his services has evolved into a classical-music program for kids of all denominations. Bringing a bit of competition to the century-old Brooklyn Queens Conservatory of Music down the block, the Chocolate Chip Chamber Music Series, debuts this Saturday with a selection of eight pieces, each less than two minutes long to accommodate the attention spans of toddlers and preschoolers. It all started last fall, when Pastor Daniel Meeter pulled together what he called the Joyful Noise Committee at the Old First Reformed Church, a Seventh Avenue landmark. “The church didn’t have the funding to maintain a choir director this year, so he turned to his members who are professional musicians and asked them to play during services,” explains Helen Richman, church parishioner, member of the Femmes Four Flute Quartet, and new mom. “Then it dawned on me that within this committee, we had the experience and capability to put something together for children as well.” The 35-minute program includes Baker Bob as the master of ceremonies, who introduces each piece with storytelling and puppetry. To celebrate the first show, local bakeries are donating dozens of chocolate-chip cookies for the crowd. Rimsky-Korsakov’s Flight of the Bumblebee will have the audience buzzing around the theater, while the finale, a complex arrangement of “I’ve Been Working on the Railroad,” involves a toddler choo-choo. “There will be some expectation to try to listen,” says Richman. “But it won’t be the kind of thing where they’ll be admonished."

Old First Reformed Church, 126 Seventh Ave., nr. Carroll St., Park Slope, Brooklyn (718-638-8300); $5.


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