Symphony meets Seuss

My daughter Lizabeth, now nearly 18 and heading off to college this fall, found these pictures of her early violin days while sifting through old photo boxes recently

All three of our children grew up attending Phoenix Symphony concerts several times a year. They appreciated them more, I think, because they all played instruments at the time. Violin for Lizabeth. Flute for Jennifer. And saxophone for Christoper. Plus piano for all three.

Often our favorites were concerts from the “Family Series” — works selected by the Phoenix Symphony because of their appeal to children and families. When their 2011/12 season brochure landed in my mailbox recently, I turned first to the “Family Series” portion — which may well be their best family offering yet.

The series runs December 2011 through May 2012. All “Family Series” concerts take place at 2:30pm on Saturdays — making them easy for busy parents to remember. And late enough in the day that most children have finished morning dance lessons, soccer practice and such.

Mark you calendars now, just to be on the safe side. And consider getting a “Family Series” subscription. Especially for younger children, it’s nice to have the familiarity of sitting in the same seats for each performance.

There are plenty of benefits for the grown-ups, too. Special event concert pre-sales. A discount dining card. Prepaid parking privileges. And ticket exchange flexibility. And my personal favorite, the ability to get duplicate tickets when mine get mysteriously misplaced.

So here’s the rundown on this season’s “Family Series” events: “Holiday Celebration” (Dec 3), “Beethoven Lives Upstairs” (Jan 7), “Dr. Seuss’ Green Eggs & Ham” (March 17), “Musical Fables” (April 28) and “High Flying! Cirque de la Symphonie” (May 26). I love that so many have links to literature.

The “APS Pop Series” sounds just as fun. Think Gershwin. Motown. Rat Pack. Rodgers and Hammerstein. More Cirque de la Symphonie. Even “Broadway Rocks” — featuring “three Broadway soloists” performing hits from shows like “Wicked,” “Jersey Boys,” “Hairspray,” “Rent,” “Dreamgirls,” and “Mamma Mia!”

My baby, who’ll soon be turning 18, starts college this fall just a few blocks from Broadway. I’m going to miss her something fierce — especially when I hear the Phoenix Symphony performing showtunes, or partnering with Phoenix Theatre on numbers from “Carousel,” “Cinderella,” “The King and I,” “South Pacific,” and “The Sound of Music.”

The Phoenix Symphony offers additional 2011/12 series — including “Classics,” “Coffee Classics” and “Scottsdale” as well as special concerts. There’s an annual event to benefit their education and community outreach programs. Performances of “Handel’s Messiah” throughout the Valley. And a “New Year’s Eve Celebration.”

Remember, as you’re planning trips to hear the Phoenix Symphony perform at Symphony Hall in Phoenix, that the downtown area is also home to all sorts of kid-friendly fare. The Children’s Museum of Phoenix. Valley Youth Theatre. The Arizona Science Center. Burton Barr Central Library. The Heard Museum. And more.

If vacations to other parts feel too cumbersome or costly, consider enjoying a bit of arts tourism right here at home. Symphony Hall is near several hotels, and places like the Arizona Center have food options for even finicky young eaters. Why not make a whole weekend of it?

— Lynn

Coming up: More musings on arts tourism, Valley choirs for children and teens

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