If you've enjoyed any of the numerous song-filled offerings from Bay Area Children's Theatre, then you might very well already be familiar with the work of Marin mom Julia Norton, who serves as musical director for many of their productions, including the current Knuffle Bunny: A Cautionary Musical. She's also a composer, singer, award-winning recording artist, and teacher.
Marin Mommies caught up with Julia and asked her a few questions about her career, music, and what she and her family love about living in Marin. Learn more about her at www.julianorton.com.
Q: Please tell us a little about yourself. What's your background, and how did you get your musical career started?
A: According to my mum, I have been singing since before I could talk. I remember writing my first song with my best friend Lynne when we were 5 or maybe 6. It wasn't much to speak of lyrically and had lots of "la la las" in it, but we thought that if we wore matching pink cardigans, we might fool the public. Aged 8, I joined the village church choir with my mum. It was a 14th-century church and had gargoyles and gravestones carved in old English lettering. There I fell in love with early music, close harmonies and the dark and twisty lyrics that went with them.
Now that the holiday break is almost over, it’s once again time to sign up the kids for winter music classes. One thing my kids really enjoy are music programs. They love to sing and dance to the music and play the different instruments offered. We’ve tried a few different classes around Marin and the North Bay, and really like the Kindermusik programs offered here in Novato by Music with Melissa and the Mary Ann Hall's Music for Children. Regardless of which program you choose, there is a music class for every child from newborn to grade school.
If you’re thinking of getting your child involved in a music class, then now’s the time to sign up. Many classes will resume their sessions in the next few weeks. Here’s an updated list we’ve put together of a variety of local music programs and classes. If we’ve left out your favorite class then please let us know, or, better yet, leave a comment and tell everyone why you and your kids love it!
The 1982 animated film The Snowman is one of our favorite holiday classics, and it's even more magical when accompanied by a live orchestra and choir. It's a great way to introduce kids to the symphony, too. We're giving away four tickets to the San Francisco Symphony's performance of The Snowman this Saturday, December 22! This special performance also includes holiday favorites and sing-alongs that the whole family will love.
The Snowman is a 26-minute animated film that tells the tale of a young boy's magical friendship with a snowman who comes to life on Christmas Eve. For this performance, the film will be accompanied by the San Francisco Symphony, conducted by Donata Cabrera, and Pacific Boychoir.
To enter to win, send an email to email@example.com with "SNOWMAN" in the subject line by 11:59 pm on Tuesday, December 18, 2012. We'll choose a random winner on Wednesday. Read our complete contest and giveaway rules here.
This Friday we attended the opening of San Francisco Ballet's fantastic production of The Nutcracker. This the Nutcracker that started it all—the San Francisco Ballet presented the first full-length performance of The Nutcracker in America way back in 1944—and as usual it didn't disappoint!
Opening night was one of the ballet's family performances. For these special performances, the Opera House opens at 6 pm, one hour prior to the 7 pm curtain time, and the first 500 children in the door received a cute teddy bear as a gift. In the lobby, costumed performers from the Nutcracker cast were on hand to greet children and for family photo opportunities.
When we entered the lobby of San Francisco's War Memorial Opera House, we were in awe of the magnificent Christmas tree, lights, and the incredible holiday decor in the building. Costumed ballet performers were on hand for photos, too! This was all great, but we were excited to go in to take our seats and see the production.
Introduce your children to classical music and the centruy-old tradition of the San Francisco Symphony with the Symphony's acclaimed Music for Families concerts, special holiday concerts, and other family-friendly events.
Ticket prices range from $7.50 to $70, depending on the program. Kids' concert tickets (for children under 17) are half price! Most concerts arerecommended for children ages 7 and older.
This holiday season's family-friendly offerings from the San Francisco Symphony include:
Deck the Hall: Children's Holiday Concert and Party, Sunday, December 2, 11 am and 3 pm Deck the Hall performances and lobby activities offer tons of fun for the entire family, but the really special thing about this event is that it raises money to present a Community Deck the Hall performance that hosts over 2,000 children from Bay Area schools and local charitable organizations who might otherwise not be able to attend a symphony event. All of the beautifully decorated trees in the lobbies of Davies Hall are sponsored by local organizations and decorated by community groups, and they remain up for the entirety of the holiday season.
Next Saturday, come see four superstars of Marin's children's entertainment scene live on stage—Tim Cain, Miss Kitty, Christopher Smith, and Cindy Cohen. Accompanied by Peter Penhallow and the Dream Circle Band, this fantastic foursome perform their 13th annual "Lollypopalooza" family concert at Tiburon's Westminster Presbyterian Church on Saturday, November 17.
These popular concerts are filled with lots of clapping, dancing, and sing-along fun for children ages 3 to 8. There will be two Lollypopalooza performances: 9:30 and 11 am.
Marin Mommies presents a guest article by Marin Mom and writer Gabrielle Cullen.
Here’s a cheer for the moms who have found a way to balance family, fun and self fulfillment! One of Marin’s most musical moms, Susan Zelinsky, has the luck, and the talent, to be doing just that, and so on the cusp the 99th annual Mountain Play, (she has the starring role of Marian Paroo in The Music Man,) Marin Mommies sat down with Susan in hopes of revealing the secrets to her success.
How long have you been in musical theater?
I’ve been involved in acting, music and song since high school. I continued on in college and have been fortunate to have music and theater play a key role in my life ever since.
As a mother, what do you enjoy most about Mountain Play?
Being able to perform in a wonderful production such as Mountain Play has given me the best of both worlds. I am able to be involved in my children’s lives, work around crazy family schedules and still have a wonderful outlet for my craft.
Celebrate food, the seasons, healthy eating, and fun with Orange Sherbet's new full-length family CD Delicious. Due for release on May 15, 2012, Delicious serves up 17 tasty toe-tapping tunes that encourage families to eat, grow, prepare, and enjoy different foods.
Delicious is the perfect CD to listen to on the way to the grocery store or farmer's market, or while preparing a meal for the family. We've been listening to our review copy of Delicious quite a bit, and love the upbeat tunes on the CD, especially "Waffle Day", the title track "Delicious", and the "Garden Song/Inch by Inch".
The only drawback to Delicious is that you'll probably get hungry after listening to it!
Songs on Delicious are in turn jazzy, folksy, and funky, and will appeal to everyone in the family—kids and parents alike.
We finally had a chance to check out the Family Fare series at Novato's Ghiringhelli Pizzeria Grill & Bar. Ghiringhelli's Novato restaurant is a relative newcomer on the Marin dining scene (they've had another location in Fairfax since 1985), and has created this series of Monday night events with families of young children in mind. Each Family Fare event features a local children's musician or performer, arts and crafts, and other activities, in addition to dining from Ghiringelli's menu.
On our visit we ate pizza while local kid music legend Miss Kitty performed. Family Fare takes place in the restaurant's event room, where, in addition to dining tables, a large padded "dance floor" and activity tables were set up. Activity table offerings included coloring and painting, and a Wii console was available on a nearby flat-screen TV for game playing. Tables were covered with butcher paper and cups of crayons encouraged us to draw on our tablecloths.