Introducing children to the performing arts is an excellent New Year's resolution, and parents and grandparents can easily meet that goal at two events this month at Maryland Hall for the Creative Arts: the Annapolis Symphony Orchestra's family concert, "Tchaikovsky Discovers America," on Saturday, and the Russian American Kids Circus on Jan. 13.
The orchestra has made bringing classical music to children its mission, which may well pay dividends later as young people return for their second and third family concerts and perhaps fill future concert halls as adults.
The "Tchaikovsky Discovers America" concerts, conducted by Jose-Luis Novo, will feature the return of Classical Kids LIVE! in a theatrically staged production focused on some of the composer's most beloved music, including excerpts from Swan Lake, The Nutcracker, Sleeping Beauty and 1812 Overture.
Last year's Classical Kids LIVE! shows with the symphony, based on the popular audio stories, helped the orchestra claim the 2006 "What's Up?" Best of Annapolis Award for Children's Entertainment.
This show is based on a historical event recorded in the composer's diary when Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky visited America in 1891 to attend the opening of Carnegie Hall. The diary inspired fictional 11-year-old Jenny Petroff to create her own diary detailing their meeting on the train and later accompanying him with her family to Carnegie Hall, where the composer's music makes Jenny's parents homesick for their native Russia.
This melancholy that infuses much of Tchaikovsky's music is reflected not only in Jenny's parents, but in her realization that she is too old to realize her dream of becoming a ballerina. There is also the sadness of parting with her new friend, the famous composer.
The Tchaikovsky program will also be presented at 10 a.m. and 11:30 a.m. Thursday at Chesapeake Arts Center as part of the symphony school shows.
Children and their families attending the two performances on Saturday at Maryland Hall are invited to meet the musicians at 1:15 p.m. before the 2 p.m. concert and at 4:30 p.m. after the 3:30 p.m. show. All seats are $12.
And don't stop buying tickets just yet. The Russian Children's Circus next weekend features children from ages 6 to 18 performing acrobatics, aerial feats, balancing acts, juggling and unicycling.
Tickets cost $26 for adults and $14 for children, and are discounted for Maryland Hall members.