Musical story of Babar kicks off Kids Fare concert series

Jeff Stone

For Lori Kanoechel, 8, the story of Babar came alive Saturday morning.

The third-grader from Buffalo Grove got to perform instruments with a professional string quartet as part of Northwestern’s Kids Fare music series. The series had its first Winter Quarter installment at Pick-Staiger with “The Story of Babar,” a tale about a baby elephant who grows up to become the king.

“I liked when Babar got his car and when I got to go onstage,” Lori said.

Her father, Scott Kanoechel, brought Lori and his son Doni because he thought it would be a good introduction to live classical music for his children.

“My favorite part was the soft music at the beginning. Also, everyone laughed when I bowed after playing the small cymbals,” said Doni Kanoechel, 12.

One Saturday out of every month Kids Fare creates a program that brings music to children, said Bernard Dobroski, dean of NU’s School of Music.

“Babar is a piece that many children are familiar with, and of high worth as an art story,” he said. “The chamber music created an atmosphere where you could just listen to the music and understand the story.”

In addition to “The Story of Babar,” performed by NU piano Prof. Sylvia Wang, the program also consisted of educational performances by the Pacifica Quartet, an ensemble-in-residence at NU.

“The kids get so excited about the music and are very receptive,” said Simin Ganatra, a member of the Pacifica Quartet and violin lecturer at NU. “They get to go to a concert hall and hear instruments. This is something they might normally not get to experience.”

Each Kids Fare performance presents a different style of music, including classical, opera, jazz, choir and orchestra.

Dobroski began the program at the University of Oregon. When he returned to NU, he brought Kids Fare with him to Evanston.

“When I was at Oregon, I had two children, a 3-year-old and a 6-year-old, and they got dragged to a lot of concerts they did not enjoy,” Dobroski said. “So, I created something for them.”

Kids Fare has become a successful program. Nearly 500 people attended this weekend, including 260 children.

“Kids Fare is a good way of building an audience,” Dobroski said. “Many of the parents will be back for other events held at Northwestern.

“Kids Fare is a very important cultural event for the community. It is something the School of Music takes great pride in,” he said.

At the conclusion of the performance, the Pacifica Quartet invited six children on stage to play instruments with the quartet, including the two Kanoechels.

In upcoming months Kids Fare will feature a variety of events. Feb. 9 is “Lift Every Voice,” a visit honoring African-American traditions with an appearance by William Warfield, a voice lecturer. March 9 is “Sing, Sing, Sing,” a visit with NU’s choirs.

The series has grown in popularity. Ruth Prale, a resident of Lincolnwood, said she has started coming to the performances earlier to get good seats.

“I have been coming to Kids Fare for years with my grandchildren,” Prale said. “It’s a wonderful series.”