10 concerts that will make young people love classical music in Birmingham

Alabama Symphony Orchestra educational series
ASO Assistant Conductor Kevin Fitzgerald doing what he does best. Photo via ASO’s Facebook page

The Alabama Symphony Orchestra celebrates its 100th birthday in April 2021. Birmingham-area students can enjoy 10 hour-long concerts that blend storytelling and music. One is the annual Sensory-Friendly Concert. Selections include crowd-pleasers like Peter and the Wolf, Romeo and Juliet and more. Register now or keep reading for all the details.

Chris Confessore, ASO Principal POPS! Conductor, had this to say about the 2020-21 Young People’s Concerts on the theme of 100 Years of Storytelling: 

“Music Education is an integral part of what makes the Alabama Symphony Orchestra such a special organization . . . We look forward to sharing the adventure of discovery with our student audience members . . . It’s a highlight of every season for me!”

Here are the basics:

  • Length: one hour
  • Audience: preschoolers through high-school students
  • Purpose: show how music and storytelling go together

Register now for one or more of the following concerts. All quotes below are from the ASO’s show notes. 

1. Adventure Awaits! A Sensory-Friendly Concert

ASO educational concerts

Date: September 20, 2020 
Time: 3PM
Location: UAB’s Alys Stephens Center
Conductor: Kevin Fitzgerald

“Head into the great unknown with bears, butterflies, and other friends of the forest. Climb aboard a pirate ship and sail the seven seas—the limits are endless with the Alabama Symphony Orchestra in this family-friendly concert experience!”

2. Peter & The Wolf

ASO educational concerts

Conductor: Kevin Fitzgerald

Date: October 7
Time: 9:30AM + 11AM
Location: Thompson High School

Date: October 8
Time: 9:30AM + 11AM
Location: Dawson Family of Faith

Date: October 9
Time: 9:30AM + 11AM
Location: Northpark Baptist Church, Trussville

Date: October 15
Time: 9:30AM + 11AM
Location: Vestavia Hills UMC

“Use your imagination as the Alabama Symphony Orchestra tells the story of a young boy’s adventure with his grandfather and animal friends! This concert is perfect for the young, or young at heart, as the ASO shows the audience how each instrument, when combined, can tell a story.”

3. Once Upon a Time!

ASO educational concerts

Conductor: Chris Confessore

Date: November 4 & 5
Time: 9:30AM + 11AM
Location: Thompson High School

Date: Novemer 6
Time: 9:30AM
Location: Samford University

“Help the Alabama Symphony Orchestra write the next epic fantasy . . . Explore the elements of storytelling, and how music with your imagination can come together in this interactive ‘choose your own’ concert experience.”

Opera singers and ballet dancers will help the ASO and students tell an unforgettable story. 

4. Romeo & Juliet: Rediscovering The Classic Love Story Through Music

ASO educational concerts

Date: January 20 & 21
Time: 10AM
Location: BJCC Concert Hall
Conductor: Kevin Fitzgerald

“Tchaikovsky’s Romeo and Juliet, Fantasy-Overture features a score filled with the innocence and heartfelt passion of one of Shakespeare’s most beloved works.”

Conductor Kevin Fitzgerald will give students a look behind the scenes to understand the music and the story behind it. 

Coffee Concerts

Time: all shows 11AM
Location: UAB’s Alys Stephens Center
Conductor: Carlos Izcaray

1. Pictures at an Exhibition, by Modest Mussorgsky (orch. Ravel)

Date:  October 2, 2020

“From its ceremonious opening movement to its glorious finale—Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition—takes a stroll through an art exhibit full of rich colors and enchanting illustrations.”

2. Beethoven’s Emperor Concerto

Date: November 13
Piano: Joyce Yang

Ludwig van Beethoven: Piano Concerto No. 5, Emperor 

Help celebrate Beethoven’s 250th birthday with this Concerto, “inspired by the turmoil and tempestuous politics surrounding Vienna and the invasion of Napoleon.”

3. Dvorak’s Cello Concerto

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Date: January 8
Cello: Santiago Cañón-Valencia

Antonin Dvorak: Cello Concerto 

Don’t miss rising star Santiago Canon-Valencia on the cello in this one. 

4. The Planets

Date: January 29

Gustav Holst: The Planets 

“From the robust and captivating Mars to the ethereal rise of Neptune, Holst’s The Planets offers a spellbinding picture of the earth’s celestial neighbors.

5. Vivaldi’s Four Seasons Recomposed

Date: May 7

Antonio Vivaldi/Max Richter: The Four Seasons Recomposed 

“Rediscover the magic of Vivaldi’s Four Seasons through the lens of Max Richter. From the spring’s blossoming wilderness, summer’s bitter storms, warm autumn fires, to winter’s vast tundra, this recomposition broadens Vivaldi’s initial vision of the earth’s revolving seasons.”

6. Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto 

Date: June 4
Violin: Tessa Lark

Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky: Violin Concerto 

“A budding star in the classical music scene, violinist Tessa Lark returns for the ASO’s Masterworks Finale! See Lark and the ASO perform Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto, a score infused with lush melodies and romantic affection shows the true lyrical genius of the composer”

Follow the ASO on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter. Register now for one or all of these education series concerts for the 2020-21 season.