Once Upon a Symphony

Designed for children ages 3–5, programs feature CSO musicians and a storyteller that introduce young children to the world of music!




Your imagination will be inspired by vivid storytelling, music that depicts the characters and action, and props, costumes and images created by Chicago Children’s Theatre. Sing, dance and play with the musicians; you are a part of the performance too! Leave with beautiful memories and resources to continue the exploration at home.

During the 2014/15 season, we present two programs highlighting classic tales. In the first program, The Little Red Hen, a little red hen plants a grain of wheat and asks for help from the other farmyard animals, but none volunteer. After the wheat is harvested and then baked into delicious bread, all the animals eagerly volunteer to eat—but the little red hen will not share with them! This beautiful tale illustrates how those who put in effort are deserving of their reward. The second program is Jack and the Beanstalk. Fee-Fi-Fo-Fum! Climb up the beanstalk with Jack to a castle in the clouds where amazing adventures take place. This unforgettable version of the fairy tale emphasizes Jack’s creativity and persistence, his love for his family and the importance of music!


The Little Red Hen
Saturday, Jan 10, Feb 21, Mar 7
10:00 a.m. & 11:45 a.m.

Jack and the Beanstalk
Saturday, Apr 11, Apr 18, Apr 25
10:00 a.m. & 11:45 a.m.

Preconcert activities begin 45 minutes before the performance!


The Little Red Hen
Monday, Jan 12 & Mar 9
10:15 a.m. & 11:30 a.m.

Jack and the Beanstalk
Monday, Apr 13 & Apr 27
10:15 a.m. & 11:30 a.m.

Preparatory classroom visits by trained music educators are recommended.

Each Saturday performance is preceded by a special set of activities, led by collaborating music educators, to introduce some of the music you will hear at the concert. Participating in these activities will prepare your child to take part in the interactive portions of the performance and plant seeds for strong memories.

Monday and Friday performances are intended primarily for preschool groups. Preconcert activities are not offered, but educational materials and free classroom visits by trained Docents and music educators will help prepare young students for their visit to Symphony Center.


Once Upon a Symphony is a unique program with experiences that extend beyond your visit to Symphony Center. The information below will help prepare for your visit.

  • A few weeks prior to each concert, you will receive a preparatory document that describes what to expect at Symphony Center and several recommendations of ways that you can prepare your child for a fun and engaging musical experience.
  • Concerts are presented in Buntrock Hall, with special seating designed just for our youngest audience.
  • In addition to the friendly CSO ushers, staff and volunteers will be on hand to help ensure that you have a comfortable and safe experience.
  • After the performance, you are invited to meet the musicians and the storyteller before heading home. A postconcert document will be sent to you in the days following the concert, offering suggestions to continue exploring the music and the story at home.

Susan and Richard Kiphart provide major support for Once Upon a Symphony. Elizabeth Morse Genius Charitable Trust is the lead foundation sponsor with additional support provided by The Albert Pick, Jr. Fund.

Elizabeth Morse Genius Charitable Trust

Presented in collaboration with: