Wednesday, December 17, 2014

The Philadelphia Orchestra's Kids Christmas Spectacular

In past years, Daily Vacationer had the opportunity to experience The Philadelphia Orchestra's Kids Christmas Spectacular - a wonderfully festive show specifically put together with children in mind (this year save the date for Dec 10th).  We weren't the only ones who recognized what a great experience this was going to be.  The Kimmel Center was packed with families of all sizes and ages - babies, toddlers, preschoolers, school-aged children, teenagers, parents, grandparents, great-grandparents - all milling around the Nutcracker Market anticipating the show.  The adults were excited to share the joys of a live performance with the kids, and the kids were excited just to be there.

The excitement continued to build as the doors to Verizon Hall opened,  As always, the Kimmel Center staff was friendly and helpful throughout the corralling of hundreds of children to their seats.  Festive lights lit up the gorgeous interior of the Hall, and onstage, the Orchestra was warming up - there was a lot to take in.  Then, before the young audience began to get antsy, Conductor Cristian Macelaru made his entrance and launched the Orchestra into "A Christmas Festival".  What a fun way to begin!  Next Macelaru introduced the younger crowd to the delight of "audience participation" during the "Radetsky March".  The sounds of joyful clapping filled the hall as we watched for our signals to start and stop.  A fantastic choice for a family concert.
The performance continued with the entrance of Michael Boudewyns and Sara Valentine.  With some creative props, a spark of imagination, and a lot of enthusiasm, they told the story of "Twas the Night Before Christmas" while accompanied by the Orchestra.  Then dancers from The Rock School for Dance Education took to the stage to bring selections from "The Nutcracker" to life.  The high flying moves of the Russian Dance, beauty of the Arabian Dance, charm of the Chinese Dance, and grace of the Sugar Plum Fairy delighted to audience to no end, while the Orchestra played the familiar tunes with ease.  As much as we loved the dancing, our personal favorite part was hearing "The Waltz of the Flowers" performed by a live professional orchestra - wow!

The orchestra began it's final piece with a rousing rendition of "Sleigh Ride", and suddenly Verizon Hall went nuts with the appearance of Santa Claus himself - what a wonderful surprise visitor!  He made his way through the audience and up on stage stopping to give cheerful greetings to those sitting close and waving to those even the farthest away.  After offering a couple of gifts to Macelaru, the conductor opted to receive a large plush teddy bear and stepped down to allow St. Nick to lead the Philadelphia Orchestra (endearing him even more to an audience who had been enjoying his warm, friendliness all the way through the concert).  Santa conducted with gusto, bringing the Kids Christmas Spectacular to a lively and memorable end.
A fun and entertaining performance, we recommend making the Kids Christmas Spectacular a family tradition - all ages are invited and welcome.  But don't despair if you don't want to wait another year to experience the Philadelphia Orchestra.  Not only do they have their Glorious Sounds of Christmas performances coming up Dec 15th - Dec 17th with conductor Bramwell Tovey and Home Alone with The Philadelphia Orchestra Dec 20th - 22nd, but they also have their annual New Year's Eve Concert on Dec 31st and Messiah on Dec 18th.
The Philadelphia Orchestra also offers Family Concerts throughout the year running only an hour from 11:30am to 12:30pm with special Pre-Concert Adventures at 10:00am in the Perelman Theater. 

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  1. This looks great! I will check out the Family Concerts as we are in Philadelphia a lot, thanks!

  2. Oo, that sounds awesome! I have to check it out. We just took my 9yo who has autism to The Nutcracker at Lehigh University and she lasted all the way to intermission (75% of show). I wonder if she'd like this?? Big music fan :)

  3. My son just started playing the drums last year. I think he would like to attend a concert.

  4. Looks like an amazing show!! Will have to add this to my philly bucket list :)

  5. Love this idea! I will need to check it out for the boys would love it.

  6. I took 2 of my kids to see the Christmas Family concert 2 years ago, and they loved it! Such a wonderful experience.

  7. I love how living in and near Philadelphia, we can always find something new to do! We'll have to add this to the list!