A young girl stands next to a conductor, both with the arms in the air

Inside the Orchestra: The Power of Partnership

When you envision attending an orchestral performance, what does it conjure up? Soaring music. Musicians dressed in black. And performers sitting way far away on a stage well outside of arm’s length.

Children crowd around a musician with a cello

Photo by Inside the Orchestra

Denver-based Inside the Orchestra tosses those conventions aside to create an immersive experience for children through their Tiny Tots program, which is designed for children 7 and younger. The orchestra surrounds its young audience, thrilling them with an up-close and personal interaction with the music.

A child watches as a musician holds up his violin

Photo by Inside the Orchestra

In 2014, the group approached the Denver Center for the Performing Arts (DCPA) to partner on the performances to include the artistry of the DCPA teaching team to engage the young audiences and help deepen and enrich the experience. The orchestra has expanded Tiny Tots by collaborating with other cultural partners to offer original music complemented by dance, theatre and storytelling. This new experience is being launched as part of Inside the Story, a multi-disciplinary series of performances set to tour throughout the metro area.

In partnership with Lighthouse Writers Workshop and Arts Students League of Denver, the orchestra created an original children’s book, A Surprise for Rabbit, with a story by Denise Vega and illustrations by Kristina Maldonado Bad Hand and Leah Stephenson.

A large group of children are dancing at an Inside the Orchestra event

Photo by Inside the Orchestra

Using the book as a springboard, the orchestra enlisted the help of Charles Denler to compose the score for its 30-piece orchestra. Local performers from Hannah Kahn Dance Company, the Denver Center for the Performing Arts, and Brian Kusic then brought the book and music to life through storytelling and dance.

Iliana Lucero Barron, a DCPA Teaching Artist and cast member of Shakespeare in the Parking Lot joined the DCPA and Tiny Tots collaboration during the COVID virtual programming of 2020.

“My experience of working with Tiny Tots is so fun and rewarding,” said Barron. “As the facilitator guide, I get the pleasure of engaging with kids on a different level. Getting to move around them, dancing with them all while listening to the orchestra and educating them and their parents is immensely gratifying. The best part is everyone being together in open spaces, which I feel allows the families and myself to be more free.”

A child stands with her head inside the wide end of a tuba

Photo by Inside the Orchestra

Just as the programming has expanded in scope, so too has the orchestra’s audience. While the program was offered to student groups and open to the public, now, Inside the Story: A Surprise for Rabbit travels throughout the community beginning at the Denver Art Museum.

“We’ve spent several years reimagining Inside the Story and are more than ready to add the community component to what we’ve created,” said Shelby Mattingly, Executive Director at Inside the Orchestra. “We really believe music will come to life in ways that audience members haven’t experienced before, inspiring everyone — but especially young minds — to engage, play and create.”

A young girl stands next to a conductor, both with the arms in the air

Photo by Inside the Orchestra

Executive Director of DCPA Education & Community Engagement Allison Watrous goes on to say, “Our organizational missions are in complete compliment. We are so thrilled to have this beautiful partnership with Tiny Tots. It is always so wonderful to create arts experiences for young people.”

The metro area has ample opportunities to attend. The kickoff takes place October 22 at the Denver Art Museum with performances at 9:30am* and 10:45am. Participants may attend the performance, meet the musicians, participate in art activities and explore the museum.

Additional opportunities include:

A child laughs and points at a drum set

Photo by Inside the Orchestra

Oct 23: Lilley Gulch Recreation Center (Littleton)

Nov 2: Parker Fieldhouse (Parker)

Nov 14: Boettcher Concert Hall (Denver)*

Nov 8 at Dairy Arts Center (Boulder)

Nov 9 at The People’s Building (Aurora)

Various school-based and public performances

An initial virtual program will go live Oct 22

* Bi-lingual performances in English & Spanish

Children watch as a musician plays a horn

Photo by Inside the Orchestra

Tickets for Inside the Story: A Surprise for Rabbit at the Denver Art Museum on October 22 are $15 and include admission to the Art Museum. Tickets to the remaining Full Orchestra Main Events a Lilley Gulch Recreation Center, Parker Fieldhouse and Boettcher Concert Hall are $12.50. Tickets may be purchased online and financial assistance is available.

All participating cultural organizations are grateful beneficiaries of the seven-county Scientific and Cultural Facilities District (SCFD).

Inside the Story: A Surprise for Rabbit
Kick-off event on October 22 at 9:30am and 10:45am
Denver Art Museum at 100 W. 14th Ave. Parkway, Denver