Constella Festival engages kids with free classical music events

When Tatiana Berman, international soloist and chamber musician, moved to Cincinnati in 2006, she says she took note of the multitude of musical arts organizations in town, and the possibilities for collaboration began to stir.
“I thought it would be nice to present a more unified idea to the Cincinnati people, but also to the outside world in a way, by better showcasing some of the organizations—by putting them together in a festival,” Berman says. “I approached a couple friends of mine to come and play, and they did. By bringing in these internationally renowned musicians, I then was able to put the local organizations in this same festival, and as a result, they get more international attention.”
Known as the Constella Festival of Music and Fine Arts, Berman’s creation is now in its third season. The Festival is comprised of several performances and installations that take place in October and early November in both conventional as well as unusual venues and surroundings. And as the world-class talent continues to thrive, so do Berman’s ideas for adding to the festival experience.
This year, Berman incorporated free children’s concerts into Constella’s lineup with the intent of merging storytelling and chamber music to create an experience that she says she hopes is “educational, entertaining and enchanting."
“One thing everybody knows that’s suffering is music and arts for kids in the schools,” Berman says. “I have two kids myself, and I’m a strong believer that the way things are right now—it doesn’t make sense to me—it’s been scientifically proven that kids who do art and music do better academically, and I have proof in my children and lots of my friends. It develops their brain, and not just the basics—it develops their self-confidence. They become focused—the concentration. You name it—it’s good for them.”
Incorporating children’s activities into the festival lineup is just the beginning for Berman and other musicians involved with Constella, however. Thanks to a recent grant, the organization will now be able to go to local schools to perform and give students the necessary tools to know that, just because they may not be able to receive a musical education at school, they can do it on their own.
“You can make music and make art, and it’s not this thing where they have to buy stuff, necessarily. We give them a handout of resources—music-making apps, free things they can do at the museum and at different places, free concerts for children, things like that,” Berman says. “The idea is to really encourage them and make sure they understand they can make music in any way, shape or form, and there are different ways of getting involved and going to make art as well.” 

Do Good: 

• Like the Constella Festival of Music and Fine Arts' Facebook page.

• If you're interested in bringing Constella children's performances to your school or community, contact event organizers.

• Support Constella by donating and by attending festival events—all events are kid-friendly, and student tickets are available.

By Brittany York
Brittany York is a professor of English composition at both the University of Cincinnati and Xavier University. She also edits the For Good section of SoapboxMedia. 

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