By Susan Reynolds
What you need to know about Maestro Classics and what they can do for your grandchildren.
As the former executive director of the Washington Chamber Symphony at the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC, Bonnie and Stephen, who served as musical director and a prominent symphony conductor,At an age when the majority of her contemporaries have retired, Manhattan resident Bonnie Ward Simon—parent, stepmother, and step-grandparent of four—continues full speed ahead. Rather than slowing down when confronted with widowhood, Bonnie, as executive producer and creative director of Maestro Classics, remains dedicated to continue the mission she and her husband Stephen began—to foster a love for classical music while children are young.
As the former executive director of the Washington Chamber Symphony at the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC, Bonnie and Stephen, who served as musical director and a prominent symphony conductor, produced 25 years worth of beautiful classical music performances, including the “Chamber Symphony’s Concerts for Young People” series at the Kennedy Center, which packed the house for more than ten years. Mrs. Simon also founded Viva Vivaldi!™, the Re-Creation of Vivaldi’s All-Girl Orchestra, the international competition for young women held at the Kennedy Center. Together, she and Stephen co-created the Great Composer Series and the Stories in Music™ series in the Kennedy Center Concert Hall, as well as the Annual Holiday Sing-Along, which The Wall Street Journal called “the hottest holiday ticket” in Washington, DC.
The birth of Maestro Classics Bonnie and Stephen Simon also brought the classical music listening experience to families worldwide by founding the record label, Maestro Classics, with a focus on family-friendly works for nar- rator and symphony orchestra, aimed for young kids between 6 and 12. The winner of over 50 national awards, Maestro Classics’s “Stories in Music” series uses storytelling to introduce children to classical music, and offers educational materials to boost the interactive experience.
It’s an interactive learning experience
The title track is always a work for narrator and orchestra, where the music is just as important as the story. Selections include Peter and the Wolf, The Story of Swan Lake, The Tortoise and the Hare, The Sorcerer’s Apprentice, Casey at the Bat, and more. Each CD offers educational tracks that encourage movement, dancing, singing, art projects, creative play, as well as techniques for training the ear and learning about composers and storytellers. Accompanying 24-page activ- ity books include ideas for projects grandparents and chil- dren can do together. The Maestro Classics website is a fabulous resource, with tips for including music in young kids’ lives from pregnancy forward and ways to introduce classical music to kids. Fabulous educational packets are available on the website, as well.
Susan Reynolds is GRAND Magazine’s editor and has auth- ored or edited more then 45 nonfiction books, including Train Your Brain to Get Happy, and, most recently, Fire Up Your Writing Brain. She owns a literary consulting business in Boston