The Firebird: Activities for the Car

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!


Tania Miller

  • Tania Miller is Music Director Emerita of the Victoria Symphony in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada.
  • Raised in Saskatchewan, Canada, Tania began studying piano and organ at age 8. She became the organist and choir conductor at her church when she was 13.
  • When asked about how this concert illustrates conflict and harmony, Tania replied, “Harmony is about relationships.  Music is full of relationships!  Sometimes the relationship is between the notes themselves, and the way that some notes get along together and make beauty together whereas some notes clash against each other and make the music bright or powerful.  In this way, the notes and music can describe stories and people!  Music creates the feeling of harmony or conflict in a way that is incredible.  Sometimes it is beautiful, sometimes it is surprising and always it is exciting! We hope that you enjoy feeling the music together with us!”

Guest Artist SPOTLIGHT

Joffrey Academy Trainees and Studio Company

  • The Joffrey Academy of Dance, Official School of The Joffrey Ballet, is committed to providing students of all ages, levels and backgrounds who have a desire to dance with a world-class education built on a foundation of classical ballet.
  • The Joffrey Academy Trainee Program is a one to two year program for students ages 17 and older who are preparing for a professional dance career. Students are selected to participate in the Trainee Program by invitation from The Joffrey Ballet Artistic Director, Ashley Wheater, and the Head of Studio Company and Trainee Program, Raymond Rodriguez.
  • The corps de ballet (meaning the dancers who dance as a group) is an example of classical ballet at its finest. Members of the corps often must dance the same steps and move with the same rhythm. Together, they embody balance and grace—the purest form of harmony in motion.


Reinhold Glière

  • Glière was born in Ukraine in 1875, but later moved to Russia to study violin at the Moscow Conservatory.
  • After graduating, Glière taught at various schools and conservatories (one of his pupils being the composer Sergei Prokofiev), studied conducting and continued composing.
  • After the Russian Revolution, the composer attained a high status in the Soviet musical world, perhaps because of his interest in national styles.
  • Many of his works use elements of Russian folk music to give the music a very “Russian” sound.
  • “Russian Sailors’ Dance” is an arrangement of a Russian folk song, “Yablochko” (“little apple”), and consists of an introduction, a theme and several increasingly frenzied variations.

Sergei Prokofiev

  • Prokofiev was a Soviet composer born in 1891 and is regarded as one of the major composers of the twentieth century.
  • His mother was a musician, and, inspired by hearing her practice the piano, Prokofiev composed his first piano piece at age five.
  • When Prokofiev was eleven, he began his formal musical education with Reinhold Glière and in just a few months made his first attempt at composing a symphony.
  • Prokofiev began studying at the Saint Petersburg Conservatory a few years later. After graduating, the composer made a name for himself in Russia, but eventually moved abroad to pursue other performance and composition opportunities.
  • Prokofiev returned to Soviet Russia in 1936 and worked on several of his most famous compositions, including the ballet Romeo and Juliet.

Pytor Ilyich Tchaikovsky

  • Tchaikovsky was born in 1840 in a small town in the Russian Empire. His parents were initially supportive of his musical education, allowing him to begin studying piano at age five and even hiring a tutor.
  • Later, they decided a career as a civil servant was more practical (musicians were at the bottom of the social hierarchy), so Tchaikovsky’s parents sent him to study at the Imperial School of Jurisprudence in Saint Petersburg.
  • Tchaikovsky worked as a lawyer after finishing school, but once the Saint Petersburg Conservatory opened in 1862, he left his career in law behind to pursue his true calling: music.
  • Although Swan Lake is now one of the most beloved ballets of all time, its premiere was not well-received. Tchaikovsky composed the music in 1875-76, and the ballet premiered in 1877.
  • The ballerina Anna Sobeshchanskaya, who was intended to play the leading role of Odette, was not allowed to perform at the premiere because a government official complained that she had accepted expensive jewelry from him, but married another man.

Igor Stravinsky

  • Stravinsky was born in St. Petersburg, Russia in 1882 and grew up surrounded by the arts. During his life, he became one of the most famous composers in modern music.
  • His father was a professional singer and Stravinsky often watched his father perform at the opera house.
  • Stravinsky started taking piano lessons at age nine, but later studied law in school.
  • While in school, Stravinsky met the son of famous composer Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov, who started teaching him composition. Law became much less important to Stravinsky once he found fame with the ballet The Firebird.
  • Stravinsky wrote The Firebird for Serge Diaghilev’s Ballet Russes Company, and it premiered in Paris in 1910. Both the audience and critics were immediately captivated by the ballet’s music and the story of a magical, glowing bird.