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

Click here to return to the Spanish Rhythm and Dance Parent Guide!

LISTEN before the concert, using our Spotify playlist. You can access it below or via this link. playlist on Spotify.

*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!


Conductor Scott Speck explores the traditions of Spanish music, the instruments of an orchestra, and what the role of a conductor is in a series of videos featured below.

Introduction to Spanish Music

What is an Orchestra?

What Does a Conductor Do, Anyway?


Georges Bizet

  • Bizet was encouraged by his parents to be a composer – they even hid his books from him so he would spend more time on his music than reading!
  • He composed operas, his most famous being Carmen. The opera opened to poor reviews in Paris, and because Bizet died during the first round of performances, he was unable to see how successful it would become after performances in Vienna.

Gerónimo Giménez

  • At the age of 12, he was performing as a member of the first violins at the Teatro Principal in Spain.
  • By 17, he was conducting opera and zarzuela performances in his hometown of Seville.
  • He primarily wrote zarzuelas–a traditional form of Spanish musical comedy–but he also wrote several orchestral and chamber works in his career.

Manuel de Falla

  • One of Spain’s most important musicians of the 20th century – he is even featured on Spain’s 1970 100-pesetas banknote!
  • He had a strong interest in native Spanish music, particularly Andalusian flamenco.
  • He was influenced by other composers in Paris, including Ravel, Debussy and Dukas, though much of his music contained a nationalistic character.

Isaac Albéniz

  • He was a child prodigy, who gave his first public piano performance at the age of 4.
  • He traveled widely and lived in London and Paris, where he taught, composed, and performed.
  • He is most famous for his piano music, and for including authentic folk melodies and rhythms in his compositions.

Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov

  • Enjoyed listening to Russian folk songs, church music and opera during his childhood.
  • Composed his first symphony while on a navy ship.
  • After leaving the navy, he taught at the St. Petersburg Conservatory (which is now named for him!).


Learn more about guest artists performing at the concert!

Kimberly Han

  • As winner of the CSO’s 2015 Crain-Mailing Youth Auditions, Kimberly is a featured piano soloist for each Spanish Rhythm and Dance concert. This will be Kimberly’s second time performing with the CSO–the first was as a piano soloist in the 2015 School and Family Concert Carnival of the Animals.
  • Kimberly started playing piano when she was five-and-a-half years old and has been studying with Brenda Huang for nine years.
  • In January 2016, Kimberly was featured as a pre-college young pianist on the WFMT 98.7 program Introductions.
  • Kimberly likes to play the violin with the MYA Symphony Orchestra, teach violin to younger children, read and travel around the world with her family.

Ensemble Español Spanish Dance Theater

  • Founded in 1976 by Dame Libby Komaiko, Ensemble Español is comprised of forty dancers, singers, musicians and guest artists from Spain and the United States.
  • Ensemble Español presents over 100 Spanish dance educational programs and residencies throughout Chicago and the United States, serving over 20,000 students annually in the three styles of Spanish dance.
  • Ensemble Español is the premier Spanish dance company in the United States. It is in residence at Northeastern Illinois University.
  • To learn more about Ensemble Español programming, please visit ensembleespanol.org.