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Time to play 

The snow has been here a good hundred days now. Sledding and snowmen have lost a little of their fun factor, and you've definitely reached a saturation level of the Cartoon Network. It's time to break the boredom and get a little culture, family style. In March, there are several musical offerings designed with kids in mind.

The Spokane Area Children's Chorus is showcasing its youngest members in a March 4 concert called "Musicking II." Part one happened this fall, and this concert is a follow-up.

"It's all the choirs, but it's going to feature the youngest members," explains Michael Wolfe, spokesman for the SACC. "This is a great concert for people who have kids who might want to join the choir." Although the five choirs of the SACC range in age from 7 to 18, the

younger singers bring something very unique to the performance.

"They have a lot more of a light, flowery musical tone that comes out," Wolfe explains. "But you'll be surprised at the complexity of the music the younger kids can sing."

The concert's focus is on putting the fun back in music for kids. "This is going to be more of a light, fun, uplifting experience," Wolfe explains. "In essence, it's about the joy of making music."

After kids get a taste of what the voice can do, get their feet into the action at the next KPBX Kids' Concert on March 10 at the West Central Community Center. They have an Irish Dance Party lined up just in time for St. Patrick's Day.

"We've been doing kids' concerts for eight years," says Kathy Sackett, special events director for KPBX. "This is the first time we've ever done one for St. Patrick's Day."

The concert will feature musical group Dulaman, and the dance troupe the Silver Spurs. Dulaman has performed in the area quite a bit. "They've performed at the Fall Folk Festival and have done other kids' concerts," Sackett explains. But this dance party is fairly unique for the kids' concert crowd. "We've done some dance things before," explains Sackett. "The Silver Spurs will do a little exhibition."

Then it's time for the audience to kick up their heels. There will be instruction in Irish dance, but you don't have to learn the Celtic steps to participate. Sackett says, "Just get up and move."

The Spokane Area Children's Chorus presents its "Musicking II" concert on Sunday, March 4, at 4 pm. Tickets: $5, general; $6, reserved. Call: 624-7992. The KPBX Kids' Concert/Irish Dance Party is at the West Central Community Center, 1603 N. Belt, Saturday, March 10, at 2pm. Free. Call: 328-5729.

Some old favorites

On March 15, the Coeur d'Alene Symphony will present its annual youth concert, "Introducing the Classics." Although the Coeur d'Alene Symphony is newly named, it is not as newly formed as we had thought.

"We were known a long time as the North Idaho Symphony," explains Symphony Spokeswoman Marilyn Montgomery. "This [youth concert] is an annual event." The focus is on introducing young people to some of the magic of the symphony. "It's educational," says Montgomery. "It's a free concert, primarily for young people, their parents and their teachers."

The program includes what may be familiar pieces by Benjamin Britten, Beethoven, Puccini and Stravinsky. "These are examples of different kinds of music," Montgomery explains. "Absolute music, music that tells a story with words, and music that tells a story without words."

The Young Person's Guide to the Orchestra by Britten will lead the concert. "The Benjamin Britten piece introduces the different instruments of the orchestra and uses a theme over and over again," says Montgomery.

After this introduction to the orchestral basics, the audience will get to hear the first movement of one of the most familiar symphonies ever written, Beethoven's Fifth. Montgomery, who wrote the program guide for the concert, offers this little-known fact about this well-known piece of music: "The opening chords of the symphony are the same as the morse code for V. It was used as a code for Victory. During World War II, people would hum these first bars as a revolutionary act. It's a very symbolic piece of music."

After an aria from Puccini's La Boheme, the concert ends with selections from Stravinsky's Firebird Suite. Many concert-goers may recognize this piece from the final section of Disney's Fantasia 2000. In the film, animators have created a sort of nature's view of the aftermath of a volcanic eruption that looked very much like our own Mt. St. Helen's. But Stravinsky had a different tale in mind.

"The Firebird was a Russian fairy tale," says Montgomery. With all these wonderful compositions on the bill, newcomers to the orchestra are sure to have a wonderful experience to take away with them.

The Coeur d'Alene Symphony presents "Introducing the Classics" at Schuler Auditorium, North Idaho College, on Thursday, March 15, at 7 pm. Free. Call: (208) 769-7780.

Young at heart

The kids aren't the only ones entitled to some childlike time in the midst of the late winter blahs. Adults who haven't lost their sense of playfulness should take a look at Zephyr's upcoming concert "For the Child in All of Us" on March 15 at The Met.

"One of the quotes we're using for the concert is the Dr. Seuss quote, 'Adults are obsolete children,' " says Kendall Feeney, artistic director for Zephyr. "So this concert is where the obsolete meet."

The concert will be filled with fairy tales, both narrated and musical, to help the grown-ups remember some of the stories of childhood.

"There's going to be a reading of 'The Elephant's Child' by Kipling," says Feeney. "And two instrumental pieces based on Nordic and Eastern European fairy tales." The concert will conclude with selections from Steven Sondheim's Into the Woods.

For Feeney, all these childhood stories are not just a walk down memory lane. "Fairy tales are also metaphors for adult journeys," Feeney explains. In addition to a wonderful feast for the ears, the concert will have some unique backdrops designed by local textile artist Louise Kodis. "They are full of color and whimsy and those sorts of things that she's so good at," Feeney says. As for why Feeney decided to do a grown-up concert with childlike themes, she admits her own sense of playfulness was definitely a factor. "I guess I know I have a lot of a child in me. I think it's a reason to celebrate."

Zephyr's "For the Child in All of Us" concert is at The Met on Thursday, March 15, at 8 pm. Tickets: $14-$17, adults; $10, students. Call: 325-SEAT.

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