What it is: The Chapel Hill Philharmonia is an all-volunteer community symphony orchestra that performs in Chapel Hill. It is led by Donald L. Oehler, Professor of Music at the UNC. We were excited to attend our first performance -- as it happened to be one of several free concerts each year. The shows are always changing, but the one we attended was named, "The Three B's: Bach, Beethoven, and Brahms". I have always enjoyed playing my children a variety of music at the house, but I was very excited to let them see it performed live! Even for children with no previous exposure, this event was very kid-friendly and seeing people playing their instruments kept most kids interested.
The room filled to capacity and some people did have to stand. The first several rows were on the floor (mostly filled with young children and parents) and behind that were several rows of chairs (all taken). Most kids (on the floor) were eating a snack and sitting close or on the lap of a parent. Fairly casual, but also fairly quiet/behaved in the audience (which with young children is not always easy to achieve;). The show was about an hour, and although my boys can typically sit still for awhile when interested in something, they started getting restless towards the end. I was thankful that they saved Beethoven for last (more kids recognized his music) and the conductor asked kids to line up if they wanted to conduct! Mine did, and they loved it!
Once the show was over (and it was great), the kids/families were invited to visit with musicians and even got to play some of the instruments. We went straight back to percussion. My boys enjoyed sampling several drums and even enjoyed an extended visit on the kettle drums. (My friend plays them.) The walk back to the car was fun because of the college town/city feel, and we stopped at the Chapel Hill Community park on the way home -- a short drive from Kenan Music Hall.
What we liked: Free to get in! Note -- not all shows are free...so check calendar first. Kid-friendly, relaxed atmosphere, and a chance to sample the instruments.
What we would change: It got really crowded- not sure they can do much about that though. Bigger space possible? Also, parking can be a challenge if you are trying to get next to the building. There are parking garages/outdoor lots you can use that are a short walk, however. If your child naps, the time of the show can be a challenge too -- starts at 3pm. I had to wake mine early, but they did fine!
Website and other important information:
Address: Kenan Music Building Rehearsal Hall, UNC-CH