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Bring the Family

Boston Pops roll out the red carpet for families

Chris McNulty

Who: Features editor Hayley Kaufman, husband Chris McNulty,

and kids Nate, 8, and Rachel, 5

Continue reading below

What: Dressing up like grown-ups to see the Boston Pops

Where: Symphony Hall

When I was a child, my parents took us on grown-up outings: the symphony, ballet, theater, the usual. It was the 1970s, and there weren’t that many kid-friendly options in our town. If parents wanted their children to learn about the arts, they dragged them along.

We were expected to be on our best behavior at all times, even when we could barely sit still a minute longer, or didn’t understand what a play was about, or were frankly bewildered by the films we saw. (Altman? Really, Dad?)

Wimp that I am, I rarely try this with my own kids. They’re too squirmy and giggly, and I’m afraid that miffed patrons nearby will pelt me with cellphones. But when we saw that the Boston Pops were celebrating the work of George Gershwin at a family performance one recent Saturday, we decided to give it a shot.

Without an intermission, the program was not as long as some others, which suited us just fine. We prepped for the show by listening to “Rhapsody in Blue.” We read up on the winner of the Youth Concerto Competition who’d perform at the matinee. And because it was a special occasion, we all brushed our teeth.

We sat in the cheap seats, but the truth is there isn’t a bad seat in Symphony Hall. Pops conductor Keith Lockhart made everyone feel at home, telling the story of George Gershwin: his love of music as a child, his early years as a musician, and, finally, the story of how, at age 25, he composed “Rhapsody in Blue,” one of his greatest musical achievements, in just a few weeks’ time.

The kids did pretty well, though Rachel insisted on trying to speak to me at her normal, just-shy-of-earsplitting decibel level. Nate got wriggly as the show went on, but he was no more annoying than the other kids we saw. And then, just as we thought they’d hit their limit, Lockhart welcomed a throng of Boston Conservatory students onstage to sing and dance to an array of Gershwin classics. Nate and Rachel leaned forward, staring at the stage with delight.

Hayley Kaufman can be reached at
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