Young People’s Concerts Take Kids on a Journey of Music and Self Discovery

Friday February 9, 2024

Kids from across Kern County were taken on a musical journey this week at the Young People’s Concerts, courtesy of the Bakersfield Symphony Orchestra. More than 5,200 elementary school students were bused in from at least 65 schools to attend the special concerts Thursday and Friday at the Mechanics Bank Theater and Convention Center.

Holly Arnold, Executive Director of the Bakersfield Symphony Orchestra, says elementary school is a great time to introduce kids to musical instruments, and inspire them to start playing.

“Some of our musicians that are chaired professional musicians were inspired when they went to young people’s concerts when they were little,” she said.

This year’s theme is The Conductor’s Spellbook, an interactive concert experience that uses music and narration to tell a story and introduce students to the symphony and all the various musical instruments.

During a field trip to the symphony, the story’s hero, Tony Stradivarius finds a book of spells and takes control of the orchestra, but it doesn’t always go as planned.

Students are encouraged to play along with the characters in the story. 

“We try to make it interactive for the kids,” Arnold says. “They’ll help [the narrator] say the spells and then they’ll help conducting.”  

Students help conduct the orchestra.

Arnold says it’s also important for kids to see the orchestra as accessible. 

“We have a very diverse orchestra,” she said. “We mirror our community, and I want kids to say ‘that could be me.’”

Because of funding and resources, not every school has access to a robust music program, so Arnold says it’s important to fill the gap in musical education. 

“Some kids are never going to be exposed to something like this,” she said. “Inspiring the kids and the next generation, it’s a dream job for me.”

By Katie Avery

By Katie Avery

Katie Avery joined the Kern County Superintendent of Schools in 2023 as a Communications Specialist. As a former journalist and marketing professional, her passions include media and storytelling. Before joining KCSOS, Avery worked for various local TV stations as well as the health care industry.