October 27, 2004

Monthly music program geared to toddlers

by Paula M. Davenport

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- Stay-at-home moms and babysitters, bring the kiddies and come to Southern Illinois University Carbondale’s new, free "Klassics for Kids" music programs.

The productions are open to all. And they don’t cost a thing.

Up next will be a cute children’s opera "When the Prairie Dog Met the President," from 10 to 10:30 a.m., Tuesday, Nov. 2, in the large, first-floor rehearsal room in Altgeld Hall. Parking is available at metered spots in the lot across the street from the Student Center.

"Each concert is interactive, so the kids are not just sitting there listening, they’re also doing, which is nice," said Kara A. Benyas, who along with her husband, Edward Benyas, the Southern Illinois Symphony Orchestra’s conductor, created the new "Klassics for Kids" series. Both are members of the School of Music faculty.

The parents of a two-year-old, the Benyases launched the free, monthly series for toddlers this fall.

Their goal? Introduce area preschoolers -- whose primary musical diets may include songs by Barney, the Teletubbies and other TV characters -- to classical music, musical instruments and a whole host of other forms of live musical expression.

"Klassics for Kids" meets at 10 a.m. the first Tuesday of every month when the University is in session. Moms and babysitters are welcome to just show up and bring their children to each of the events. Admission is always free. Parking is available at metered spots in the lot just across the street from the Student Center.

Parents will be happy to hear the series is very child-friendly.

"Parents don’t have to worry if their child is crying or making noise. We encourage kids to listen but we understand if it’s not completely quiet," said Kara Benyas.

Upcoming performers will include a brass quartet, a tuba quarter and a large concert to be performed at Shryock Auditorium.

For more information, call Edward M. Benyas, associate professor of music, at 618/453-5834.

Providing cultural experiences to the greater community is among the goals of Southern at 150: Building Excellence Through Commitment, the blueprint for the development of the University by the time it celebrates its 150th anniversary in 2019.