Explore the activities below with your child(ren) before arriving at Symphony Center–they’re perfect for your car or train ride downtown!

LISTEN before the concert, using our Spotify playlist. Access the playlist below or at this link. You can listen to the tracks freely, or you can explore the activities below for an enhanced listening experience.

*Note that a free account is required to use Spotify.


Your child will see many different instrument families at the concert today. Show him or her these pictures of each instrument family before you arrive. After finding your seats at the concert, ask your child if he or she can identify any of the instrument families!


Thomas Wilkins believes . . .

“An orchestra is one of the best demonstrations of what a community is: a diverse group of people working together for a common purpose. Every voice in the orchestra is different, but because an orchestra is a community, musicians navigate their differences to achieve a common goal—beauty.”


Li-Kuo Chang, Assistant Principal Viola, believes that . . .

“To play in harmony as an orchestra musician, you need an open heart, sharp eyes and sensitive ears. An open heart so you may embrace other musicians’ ideas, sharp eyes so you can follow the conductor closely, and last, certainly not the least, sensitive ears so we can all blend with each other as an ensemble—not as an individual—in intonation, tone color and style.”


Leonard Bernstein

  • Bernstein studied at Harvard University, and while there, he allegedly earned the only “A” that his teacher Fritz Reiner ever awarded throughout his entire teaching career!
  • The operetta Candide originally premiered in 1956 as a musical on Broadway, but the show was a complete disaster at the box office and only ran for two months. Candide has since gained enormous popularity!

Aaron Copland

  • Though he studied in France, Copland became famous for creating music with an “American” sound.
  • Some of Copland’s most famous works are ballets, such as Appalachian Spring and Rodeo, but he also wrote orchestral works, chamber music, opera and film scores.

Georges Bizet

  • Bizet began studying at the famous Conservatoire de Paris at age 10 and won many prizes during his time there.
  • For most of his career, Bizet’s primary source of income came from arranging and transcribing other composers’ works, but he found some success later on in his career with his most successful and final work, Carmen, which premiered only a few months before the composer’s premature death on June 3, 1875.

Pytor Illyich Tchaikovsky

  • Tchaikovsky showed signs of being a talented musician at a young age, but his parents encouraged him to study law instead, which was considered a more respectable career at the time.
  • He left his legal job to study and compose music, including his Fourth Symphony. When it premiered it was not well-liked by the public, and though it was hard for Tchaikovsky to hear harsh words about his music, he continued to compose symphonies, concertos, operas and ballets.

Samuel Coleridge-Taylor

  • Taylor was a British composer who was of mixed European and African descent. His heritage significantly influenced many of his compositions, such as African
  • Taylor’s death in 1912 was probably brought on by exhaustion from being overworked. At the time, publishers only paid composers a small, one-time fee for their work because collecting royalties from compositions was not yet an established practice. Taylor’s death was one motivation for the implementation of the royalties system in the U.K.

Béla Bartók

  • Bartók was a very musically talented child. By age four, and without any formal training, he could play forty pieces on the piano. He performed his first composition during his first piano recital at age eleven, but the short piece had been written a couple of years previously.
  • Bartók was extremely interested in folk music and traveled around to collect different folk melodies, which he would use later in his compositions. The Romanian Folk Dances is based on several Romanian melodies from Transylvania.

Alberto Ginastera

  • Ginastera’s works can be divided into three periods, all of which differ in their use of traditional Argentine musical elements. Typically, the works of his earliest period incorporate the Argentine elements in a more direct manner, while his later works use traditional elements in increasingly abstract ways.
  • Ginastera lived in many countries throughout his life. Ginastera was born and grew up in Buenos Aires, Argentina, studied at Tanglewood in Massachusetts, taught in various places in the United States and then moved to Europe.