Once Upon a Symphony Jack & the Beanstalk Review – A Fee-Fi-Fo-Fun Time!

The Chicago Symphony Orchestra is full of world class musicians and boasts a conductor that is unparalleled.  The CSO puts on a wide-ranging amount of shows that are engaging and thought-provoking.  Because of this, the Chicago Symphony audience is sophisticated and has very high tastes.  Of course, I am referring to the 3 to 5-year-olds at the Once Upon a Symphony program.

The Once Upon a Symphony program is one of the numerous programs the CSO puts on for the betterment of music.  Presented in collaboration with the Chicago Children’s Theatre, this program is intended for the youngest of music aficionados (ages 3-5) with actual members of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra performing.   It is an amazing way to introduce young children to the world of classical music.

Jack obtaining the magic beans

Once Upon a Symphony weaves together live music, storytelling, costumes and images to create a unique musical experience for children.  Concerts are performed in Buntrock Hall, with special cushions on the floor designed to get children involved in the performance.  The show is interactive and gets the children to sing, dance and imagine along with the storytellers.  In addition to musicians and storytellers, there are volunteers on hand to help the children dance and sing along with the program.

The performance this month was the story of Jack and the Beanstalk with the theme of not being afraid.  In the classic story, Jack helps the villagers by confronting the grumpy giant in the sky.  A song was introduced to the children before the show and repeated throughout the performance.  The lyrics:

When I am scared and all alone / I feel like running home / I stand up straight / I might be small / but I am not scared at all!

These words were repeated whenever Jack was scared:  when he was climbing the beanstalk, when he first hears the giant’s “Fee-Fi-Fo-Fum!” and when he was chased by the nasty giant.  This lesson helps the children recognize and control their emotions.


CSO Principal Bassoon Keith Buncke
demonstrates his instrument to
the children in the audience

The symphonic instruments were woven into the story as well; the flute represented Jack’s mother, the bassoon represented the cow that Jack sold to get the magic beans, as well as others.   It was a great musical introduction for the youngsters in audience.

After the performance, the children were invited to meet the musicians to get an up-close look at the set and props.  Also, after the show there were instructors on hand for what they called a “instrument petting zoo.”

The children were allowed to look at and even hold/play several instruments including flute, cello and violins.  For any child with a fascination of music, it was a great way to spend a morning.

Children enjoying the instrument “petting zoo”

These concerts are intended for children to develop a love of music in a fun setting with familiar stories.  It is a great way to immerse a child into the world of the Chicago Symphony while keeping them entertained and engaged.  Education is best when it is fun.

For more information about the Once Upon a Symphony click here

Photos provided by the Chicago Symphony and K. Joseph Fotos

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