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!




Expertly designed for our youngest concertgoers, Once Upon a Symphony weaves vivid storytelling, live music, sets, costumes and images to create a unique and magical overture to the live music experience. These concerts enhance child development as life-long learners by cultivating skills such as problem solving, making connections, focus and self-regulation, perspective, persistence and self-directed, engaged learning.

During the 2015/16 season, we present two exciting programs. In the first program, The King Elephant and the Mice, the mighty King Elephant leads his elephant family to the lake to drink. As the herd of elephants charge towards the water, the forest mice scurry away. But when the elephants wade into the lake, they get stuck in the mud and are soon roped by hunters! Who will come to their rescue? Originally from a collection of Indian fables passed down through centuries, this story teaches us that we will find friends—and courage—in unexpected places.

In Goldilocks and the Three Bears, the brazen, young Goldilocks stumbles upon a quaint cottage, finds that the door is unlocked, and goes inside to explore. Little does she know it belongs to three bears, and they’re on their way home! Through this story, children will experience the wide and wonderful world of the forest through Goldilocks’ eyes and playfully explore some of the boundaries and responsibilities that come with growing older.


The King Elephant and the Mice
Saturday, Dec 5, Jan 9, Feb 20
10:00 a.m. & 11:45 a.m.

Goldilocks and the Three Bears
Saturday, Mar 19, Apr 16, May 7
10:00 a.m. & 11:45 a.m.

Preconcert activities begin 45 minutes before the performance!


The King Elephant and the Mice
Monday, Dec 7, Feb 22
10:15 a.m. & 11:30 a.m.

Goldilocks and the Three Bears
Monday, Mar 21, May 9
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 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: