Family Music Day, NYC
AFIPO’s Family Music Day returns to New York on December 3 with interactive musical fun
AFIPO Board Member Elaine Wolfensohn has fond memories of bringing her 11-month-old grandson to his first Family Music Day in 2008 along with his parents Jen and Adam Wolfensohn: “Micah already listened to many hours of music, and when he saw the orchestra perform, I decided that made a connection in his mind. He still loves music.”
On December 3, Family Music Day returns to New York with a familiar face and a brand new space. The American Friends of the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra’s popular event will once again introduce children and their attending relatives to the wonders of music, musicians, and musical instruments.
Launched in 1999, the event, which benefits the IPO’s KeyNote music education programs, again features internationally acclaimed pianist Orli Shaham. Shaham, who created the “Baby Got Bach” music appreciation program, will be joined by several of her professional musician friends for an “instrument petting zoo” and a concert performance in which the kids participate.
This year’s Family Music Day will be held for the first time at the historic Bohemian National Hall. The fun begins at 9:30 a.m. and continues until 12:30 p.m. A gourmet brunch, with dietary laws observed, will also be served.
Co-chairs Caroline Berley Endzweig and Lindsay Eichner Kraus, who are hosting the event for the first time, are themselves parents of young children.
“We’re delighted that Caroline and Lindsay are supporting this event and grateful to them both for serving as our ambassadors,” said AFIPO East Coast Regional Director Cheryl Kohn. “Family Music Day is an important starting point for introducing children to a live classical music concert. Our hope is that the intimacy of this interactive performance and the access to the musicians and instruments will make this such a positive experience that they will look forward to attending future concerts… maybe even request music lessons!”
Shaham’s appearance follows her participation at the wildly successful Los Angeles Family Music Day last May. In advance of that event she spoke of the importance of these experiences for families and how her 3-year-old sons inspired the techniques used in “Baby Got Bach.”
“I use the same premise for Family Music Day,” she said. “We let children get really excited about instruments and what those instruments are capable of doing. Then we have a show that is like a professional grown-up concert that allows them to take part, listening carefully to the music to know what to do.”
“While the program is directed to younger children, we also bring in different age groups,” added Kohn. “Older siblings also have a good time because everyone gets caught up in the music, no matter what age they are.
“For the parents, who want to do everything they can for their children, including exposing them to the arts, sports, religious education, whatever, it sometimes means they will be stepping into something they’re less familiar with,” she continued. “So in many cases the education is happening on all levels, including the parents. That makes the day even more special as you see the power of children and their parents sharing in a wonderful experience.”
UNDERSTANDING THE BUILDING
This year’s venue, Bohemian National Hall, is an historical landmark that opened in 1896 as the headquarters of the four-year-old Bohemian Benevolent and Literary Association, which was an umbrella organization for the city’s 80 Czech community groups.
“It’s a fantastic space,” Kohn said. “It has a grand ballroom designed in a neo-Renaissance palazzo style, with a full stage and plenty of room for dining.”
In 1994, its designation as a New York City landmark launched years of careful restoration led by a number of renowned Czech-American architects. The completed renovation was unveiled in 2008 by the Vice Prime Minister of the Czech Republic.
Most appropriate for an AFIPO fundraising event is the Hall’s tradition of benefit concerts going back to one in 1896 conducted by Antonin Dvorak.