by Lynn Did you know that Ottawa has this thing called Chamberfest, and it is not, as you may fear, about monks chanting or flueglehorn playing or chamber decoration? Rather, it is a celebration of all sorts of different types of classical music, in unique and interesting venues, by talented, unique, and internationally feted musicians?
And did you know they have a program called Bring The Kids, which invites children of all ages to come and explore music? I know! Just when you think you know of everything there is to do in Ottawa, you hear about something amazing like this, and wonder where the heck you've been all this time.
Chamberfest runs from July 23 through August 5, and there are dozens and dozens of concerts happening all over the place. You can get tickets and/or passes for the grown-up events on the Chamberfest site - there's tons of great stuff to choose from, something for everyone.
But the best part about the Bring The Kids series is that it is free. Let me say that one more time: FREE. Fabulous music in a gorgeous setting, feeling like a supermom for exposing your kids to the classics, and a cool way to get out of the house for the afternoon? PRICELESS.
I took my three little ones to the first in the series on Monday. It featured brass quintet True North Brass, playing at the Dominion-Chalmers United Church downtown. The quintet was just SO good. They talked about their instruments and what makes them similar yet different, and what it means to be a brass instrument. They pulled out a shell and a garden hose - and then played each one - to demonstrate the basic physics behind their instruments. They were funny and entertaining and did not seem phased at all by crying kids, crawling toddlers, random light saber duels, or the crunch of goldfish crackers.
I was pretty impressed with my kids - they actually sat and listened. The older two are 8 and 6 1/2, and they were entranced, actually listening and paying attention and learning stuff. My youngest, at age just-turned-4, got a little squirmy after about a half hour (the concert was just about an hour long). But between a snack (totally allowed) and some energetic clapping and lap-bouncing from me kept her going. Other younger kids had varying levels of concentration but no one complained or felt awkward. It's all good.
The concerts are aimed at kids aged 3 through 8, but there were a few older kids there who seemed to especially enjoy it, so don't hold back. The chamberfest volunteers were absolutely welcoming and friendly and obviously really enthusiastic about music and the whole event just had a great community feel to it.
I even learned stuff - did you know that O Canada has a few totally ripped-off lines, including an opening stolen almost in whole from The March Of The Priests from Mozart's opera The Magic Flute? I feel cheap.
There's just one more concert left in the Bring The Kids series (although many more Chamberfest concerts remain). The last kids' concert features the Sounds Of The String Quartet and it's this Thursday, July 28, at 3 p.m. It's at the Dominion-Chalmers United Church downtown and you'll want to come early to get a good seat.
But most of all, you'll just want to come. I'll see you there - this one is such a big winner that we won't miss a chance to go again.
Lynn is mom to three tombliboos and blogs over at Turtlehead.