By John Ramos

SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX 5) — Some 4,000 kids took over Davies’ Symphony Hall Monday morning for the annual “Deck the Halls” community day concerts put on by the San Francisco Symphony although some were a little unclear what a “symphony” even was.

“Uh, it’s something like a princess, but it has a beautiful crown,” said a five-year old named Hunter. Most had never heard live orchestral music before and just entering the grand hall was an eye-opening experience. “I was standing at the door greeting kids as they came in and one of them said, ‘Am I in a CASTLE?’ I mean, this is a big deal for them,” said concert co-chair Laura Maestrelli.

The children, most aged 3-10, were excited but Conductor Daniel Bartholomew-Poyser says they can be a tough audience, “You know, kids like it or they don’t, and if they don’t they’re just going to do something else – in the middle of the concert!” he said.

But once the concert started – one of two Monday morning – it all became clear, this was music they knew. The 40-minute program featured classic Christmas songs with performances by youth choral groups, a bluegrass band, a Hawaiian hula dancer, performers from the San Francisco Ballet, and even Beach Blanket Babylon.

And of course, the show was capped off with a sing-a-long and a visit from Santa Claus himself.

“They’re not going to remember individual pieces, they’re not going to remember every little thing we do,” Bartholomew-Poyser said. “But when they walk out, a year from now, they’re going to think, ‘oh yeah, Deck the Halls, San Francisco symphony – that was fun, I enjoyed that!”

It seemed to have worked for seven-year old Kayla, who said, “I just loved it … because it was just so beautiful music.”

Organizers say that’s the idea behind the free concert: get kids interested in music at an early age and they just may be music lovers for the rest of their lives.

This was the 28th annual “Deck the Halls” free children’s concert. The previous night’s paid concert is the 2nd largest fundraiser for the symphony and helps support its educational programs throughout the year.

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