In 2011, the Sudbury Symphony Orchestra (SSO) and the
Greater Sudbury Public Library partnered to present Tunes and Tales, a
bilingual program that pairs storytelling by library staff with live classical
music performed by the Orchestra’s string quartet.
Each year since, more than 1200 children, ranging in age from newborns to seven, have taken part in the 10 Tunes and Tales events produced annually, with support from TD.
"The goal of Tunes and Tales is to spark an interest in music and literacy at an early age,” says violinist and SSO Concertmaster Christian Robinson.
“The SSO has always tried to find unique ways to come to kids, and to meet them on their terms. The library's existing story time program was the perfect format for us to do exactly that; parents and children are able to access this program free of charge at a day and time that works for their busy lives, in a community space they already know and love. By combining music and stories, we're able to plant the seed for a life-long relationship with reading and listening."
Library staff and SSO musicians select the books to be
performed jointly, and rehearse to practice timing and cues.
“Kids are far and away the most honest audience any musician will play for, so we've really got to be prepared,” Robinson emphasizes.
“For my colleagues and me, there is nothing more exciting than seeing the reactions of the kids as we perform. Even if we're slightly groggy early in the morning for these story times, the enthusiasm of our audience is infectious!”
Robinson, whose own son began to attend Tunes and Tales events before he could walk, clearly enjoys the interaction.
“I recall one presentation where a kindergarten student from a local school, along with his teacher, talked to me after a performance. He kept calling my colleagues and me ‘magicians,’ which his teacher would correct to ‘musicians.’ The student, somewhat exasperated after about the fifth correction, finally said ‘No. Magician! They make magic when they play.’ Amazing.”
The Tunes and Tales format also allows for a question and
answer period after books have been performed. Kids say and ask the darndest
“Questions range from the purely technical (‘What are you looking at when you play?’) to the somewhat esoteric (‘Have you ever played for the whales?’), and everything in between. We hear ‘Do you know the music to Star Wars?’ a fair bit from older kids.”
Robinson, who has been involved in Tunes and Tales since its inception, is proud of what the program offers the Greater Sudbury community.
“I've devoted my life to performing classical music, and believe strongly in its ability to inspire and elevate all of us,” he states.
“Connecting young people with this music, regardless of a family's socio-economic status or a school's budget for arts events, is in many ways the most important part of my job as a musician. I'm tremendously proud of the initiatives the SSO undertakes in this regard, and am honoured to be a part of an orchestra that really makes community outreach a true core principal of its operations.”
DATES AND DETAILS
The next Tunes and Tales performances will feature readings (in English) of the books Something from Nothing by Phoebe Gilman, and The Kissing Hand by Audrey Penn.
The dates and locations are:
Tuesday, June 10: 10am at Lively Public Library (15 Kin Drive, Lively)
Thursday, June 12: 10:30am at South Branch Public Library (1991 Regent Street, Sudbury)
Friday, June 13: 10am, Dowling Public Library (79 Main Street West, Dowling) –