Arts & Culture

BlueCross BlueShield BPO Kids Series kicks off Sunday

The BlueCross BlueShield BPO Kids Series is going international this season with musical fun for kids of all ages programmed throughout the fall, winter and spring months.

In five Sunday afternoon concerts, the Buffalo Philharmonic’s youngest audiences will learn about the vibrant world around them through music. Through the generous support of series sponsor BlueCross BlueShield of Western New York, each concert takes place at 2:30 PM, with free activities, including the “instrument petting zoo” where kids can try out the instruments of the orchestra, beginning at 1:30 PM, led by BlueCross BlueShield of Western New York, Albright-Knox Art Gallery, The Bookworm, Buffalo and Erie County Public Library, Buffalo Suzuki Strings, Monkey See, Monkey Do…Children’s Bookstore, Tutor Doctor, and Twin Village Music.

BPO Kids for Exceptional Kids is also available through a partnership with Oishei Children’s Hospital. This experience is designed for children with sensory differences and includes noise-cancelling headphones, quiet activities, and special seating upon request.

The series kicks off Sunday, October 21 with the Symphonic Spooktacular, an annual Buffalo Halloween season tradition. Kids are encouraged to don their Halloween costume (as will the BPO musicians) for the costume parade across the Kleinhans stage. Freaky familiar favorites, including music from the Harry Potter film franchise, is included on the program. New Assistant Conductor Todd Craven will lead the concert, which features a singalong and other participatory experiences for the audience. New Assistant Conductor, Community Engagement Jaman Dunn will also conduct a piece on this program in his BPO debut.

On December 11, the annual Jingle Bell Jam will feature an international tour of holiday traditions, with music from Brazil, Puerto Rico, across Europe and the United States. The concert celebrates Christmas, Kwanzaa, and Hanukkah, with a singalong and special appearances by the Royal Academy of Ballet and the Buffalo Academy of Visual and Performing Arts Choir, and post-concert milk and cookies with the big man in red himself. In the spirit of the season, the audience is invited to bring a new, unwrapped toy to donate to Toys For Tots. Patrons can arrive early at 1:30 PM to make cards for military personnel who are far from home for the holidays.

Platypus Theater brings a fun-filled interactive show to the BPO on February 10 with Presto Mambo! The audience will watch as Max, a curious and impulsive young boy, decides to help the orchestra, embarking on a whirlwind adventure that takes him from the concert hall to the vibrant lands of Latin American culture where – with the help of his new friend, Mambo the dog, the orchestra and the audience – Max learns the magic of Latin American rhythms and how to “dance” with the music.

On March 10, the family audience will be treated to the Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra, a classic work by Benjamin Britten that is designed to introduce children to the various instruments of the orchestra. The work illustrates not only the difference between a cello and an oboe, but how a collection of disparate instruments works together to create the orchestral sound cherished by generations. Buffalo-area poet Amy VanDerwater wrote works expressly for this program that will be featured; also included is a piece by remarkable composer Le Chevalier de Saint-Georges, known as “the Black Mozart;” and a singalong.

The series concludes with the appropriately-named Around the World with the BPO on April 7. Buffalo’s own famed mule named Sal from the Erie Canal song has gone missing, and the audience and orchestra will comb the entire world together in search for her, listening for musical clues in pieces such as William Grant Still’s “Africa,” Ravel’s “Empress of the Pagodas,” Hernandez’s “El Cumbanchero,” and others.

“The BPO Kids series is one of the opportunities I’m most excited to present to the Buffalo community,” said Todd Craven, BPO Assistant Conductor. “As someone who grew up playing the trumpet and frequently experiencing his hometown orchestra, I can attest that seeing a world-class orchestra in action playing both new and familiar works is a gift children and families treasure for a lifetime. Plus, the kids will love the pre-concert activities, especially getting the chance to play the orchestra instruments for the first time.”

“BlueCross BlueShield of Western New York is pleased to sponsor the fifth season of BPO Kids, and provide children of all ages and their families the opportunity to experience live music in this memorable setting at Kleinhan’s,” said Julie Snyder, Vice President, Corporate Relations, BlueCross BlueShield of Western New York. “This season promises to see more activities and ways for families to engage with the orchestra.”

Tickets are $14 for children and $24 for adults. Flexible subscription options are available for $40 for children and $60 for adults. To order, visit, call (716) 885-5000 or visit to the box office at Kleinhans. All events take place at Kleinhans Music Hall, 3 Symphony Circle, Buffalo, NY 14201.

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