Saturday, June 1, 2013

A winter arts Saturday in the city

Disclosure: I received complimentary tickets to the MSO Classic Kids: Magic and Monsters 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. 

After a cold afternoon and night of unremitting heavy rain - winter has arrived! - we awoke this morning to a thin drizzle and the prospect of a day in the city, enjoying some of the winter arts activities that Melbourne has to offer.

First up, we went to the Melbourne Town Hall to see the latest in the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra's Classic Kids series. We have been to these before, seeing the show with Jay Laga'aia last year and the Clowning Around with Melvin Tix show in 2011. We've always really enjoyed them, and the theme of this year's - Magic and Monsters - sounded intriguing.

Once again, the MSO came through with a great show. The comedy and crowd presence of British percussion performers, O Duo, really added to the experience for my kids, especially the 4 year old, who thought the antics of the "Monsterologist" and his assistant were just hilarious. My big girls, who are musicians themselves, were very interested in all the instruments and how they work together to create orchestral sound.

At 45 minutes and with a vast spread of floor seating, these shows are always perfectly pitched to accommodate the short attention spans and wriggliness of the little kids, while still providing plenty of exposition for the older ones.

It is a rare event these days that I can honestly say fully engages my preschooler and my almost-10 year old; they are at such different developmental stages and their interests are very different. One of the things I love every year about the MSO Kids shows is that they really do have something for everyone, and we can enjoy them together.

After coming out of the MSO performance, we wandered down to Federation Square for lunch. Minor peeve - why do so few Fed Square restaurants offer a decent gluten free selection? Chocolate Buddha, with its dedicated gluten free menu, is the main exception, not that I got to sample it, as the kids were not up for sushi et al today.

We came out of the cafe just in time to catch the first 45 minutes of the free opening show of the Melbourne International Jazz Festival, hosted by Tracey Bartram. The kids promptly found some other kids to make friends with (and cadge food from, despite having just finished a meal) and we all settled in to enjoy the performances of swing group Leigh Barker and The New Sheiks with the Swing Patrol Dancers. The music was fantastic, the kids were happy, and we all learnt some basic Charleston steps :-)

Walking back to the car, we wandered through Hosier's Lane, one of Melbourne's main street art locations. The girls were all fascinated by the artwork, even more so as there were artists working on new pictures as we were there. This provoked a discussion with the older two about public art, creation and production, and with the 4 year old about why we couldn't immediately go and buy some spray cans so she could start her own art project :-)

All in all, it was a great arts day in Melbourne for a family of five, for the cost of lunch and parking. Granted, we got the MSO tickets for free, but even so, it just underlines how much arts-based stuff there really is to do in this city with kids in the wintertime.

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