Sunday, June 10, 2012

MSO Classic Kids with Jay Laga'aia

Yesterday my family and I were lucky enough to be given the opportunity to attend one of the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra's wonderful MSO Classic Kids concerts, featuring Jay Laga'aia, actor, performer, and (to the kids at least, most importantly) beloved Playschool presenter.

We have been to two of these concerts before: long ago, in the dim dark past before C was born, we went along with the two older kids and some friends, and last October we all enjoyed the lovely Clowning Around with Melvin Tix performance. The kids were pretty excited about going to see the MSO perform with Jay, especially as this concert was held at the Melbourne Town Hall, a venue that they were curious about following my two days there at the Emerging Writers Festival Conference.

We almost didn't get there - winter being winter, and Melbourne being Melbourne, the day was icy-fingered and I had two out of three children sporting heavy coughs. Inspiring the family to crawl out from under their blankies, turn off cartoons, dress in warm clothes and pile into the car was a less than optimal exercise, and I seriously thought about abandoning it several times before we eventually drove out of the garage.

I'm so glad we persisted, though. The Town Hall is such a lovely venue to listen to live music, especially when, as was the case yesterday, it isn't over-full. There was plenty of room to move about and for the kids to feel comfortable.

The MSO is always such a pleasure to listen to, and the 3 year old in particular was just beside herself at the chance to hear Jay Laga'aia singing his childrens' songs live, accompanied by the orchestra. Her favourite parts of the show were Jay's lullaby (a sweet, gentle little song, which, he wryly assured all the parents in the audience, "doesn't work") and the beautiful, lilting Peer Gynt. My almost-9 year old was quite taken with the tour of the orchestra sections, while the 7 year old was, as ever, mesmerised by the harp, and delighted by the William Tell Overture.

I never cease to be impressed at how accessible and enjoyable orchestral music is for children when it is interpreted by skilled and enthusiastic musicians. My three girls, aged 9, 7 and 3, were all engaged and interested in the performance, and at times ecstatic as each of their favourite sections or pieces were played. The hour-length show was just about right too - much longer and I think the littler kids would have become restless, any less and the older ones would have felt a bit jibbed.

After the performance, as everyone was still looking fairly bright, we headed to Rathdowne Street to try to have an early lunch at Black Ruby, the gluten free cafe that G and I so enjoyed back in April. Mildly chagrinned to discover it closed for the long weekend, we wandered along Rathdowne until chancing upon a nice-looking little place called Mister Bojangles.

Upon learning that they could accomodate my gluten free needs, we settled in for a relaxed, very enjoyable brunch - poached eggs on toast for C, hashbrowns, toast and smoked salmon for the big kids, bacon, eggs, spinach & mushrooms for me, and eggs benedict with sausages for G, washed down with milkshakes for the kids and the most delectable hot chocolate for us.

(The hot chocolate comes as hot milk and a ball of chocolate on a wooden spoon - one self-administers chocolate to milk, and, naturally, indulging in surreptitious licks as the chocolate melts is expected! We bought extra hot-chocolate-sticks to take home for a midweek treat).

As you can see, the kids were rather taken with it - and with the friendly, approachable staff. As I said to G on the way home, Rathdowne Street is rapidly becoming my go-to place for relaxed meals out in Melbourne - so far it's batting 100% in terms of successful outings.

Overall, this was such a good winter morning out, full of music, fun, food and togetherness. 9 year old A, walking back to the car, remarked that she'd had such a good time, she'd forgotten about her cough altogether. Any morning good enough to do that has got to be a winner.

Disclosure: I received complimentary tickets to this performance for review purposes courtesy of the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra. No financial payment was offered nor accepted for this post. All opinions expressed are purely my own.

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