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Ever Pet a Tuba? Musical Petting Zoo Gives Chance

Zee saw her first oboe at six months. She also waved at a tympani, chortled at the sound of the viola and looked puzzled when a tuba was played. She got the chance to experience orchestral instruments at such a young age thanks to the yearly Free Family Concert given by the Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music. The Festival, which runs through August 15 in locations throughout the Monterey Bay area, brings new compositions by contemporary artists to life, with composers taking center stage.

The Family Concert, 1 p.m. August 8, features snippets of some of those modern compositions, played with a child’s ear in mind.The show starts with a musical petting zoo, a round-about introduction to orchestral instruments that enchanted my daughter. The petting zoo allows kids to get close to the various clarinets, trumpets and violins and helps them to learn about the different sections and sounds.

The petting zoo is followed by a short concert — the perfect length for small ears — held inside the Santa Cruz Civic Auditorium. This year, fans of Lemony Snicket will get a treat as the orchestra performs The Composer is Dead, a comedic piece with narration written by the popular children’s author. Composer Nathaniel Stookey’s sinister guide to the orchestra is sure to get the audience giggling as they try to solve this perplexing murder mystery.

Though the concert is free, you will need a ticket to get it. A very limited amount of tickets are usually available at the box office on the day. However, you can order them online at for pickup at Will Call.
If you go to the concert, plan to spend some time in Downtown Santa Cruz, as Sunday is also the Cabrillo Music, Art, Wine and Food Festival.

WHAT: Free Family Concert by the Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music
WHEN: 1 p.m. Sunday, August 8
WHERE: Santa Cruz Civic Auditorium, 307 Church Street, Santa Cruz
COST: Free, but tickets required
AGE RANGE: All ages
MORE INFORMATION: or (831) 420-5260

Photo courtesy of Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music.

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