Does the thought of the impending Christmas season bring out the worst of your cynical side? Do cheery middle-aged women ringing cow bells and wearing reindeer ears make you weep? When the family arrives with endless boxes of Fox’s chocolate biscuits making the same old jokes about the Queen’s speech while drinking globby glasses of eggnog, do you hide in your room and watch incessant reruns of Seinfeld? If you said ‘yes’ to any of these questions, then a magical Camilla Pay concert played to a church hall full of babies with gummy smiles may not be your glass of glogg. For everyone else, grab your nearest niece or nephew, and treat yourself to a Bach to Baby concert.
These yummy mummy concerts are held all over London, and bring world-class classical performers to babies, toddlers and their parents. The series is organised by award-winning concert pianist Miaomiao Yu, who is the founder of the critically-acclaimed Classics With My Baby. Yu has travelled all over the world as a touring musician, and has featured on Channel 4 and the BBC. Yu said that after becoming a mother of two lively boys, she really missed popping out to watch concerts. Instead of moping about the house in her pjs, Yu decided to deliver a parent-and-baby series of concerts, where children could learn about classical music at a key developmental stage.
Guest artists at the series include pianist Grace Mo, Ruth O’Reilly on the French horn, violinist Elizabeth Cooney, flautist Saleta Suarez Ogando, Karen Stephenson on the cello, and many others. At St Alfege Church in Greenwich on Friday 23 November, it was the lovely Camilla Pay on her harp. She explained with a warm smile that she knew she wanted to be a harpist at just six-years-old. While babies crawled around determined to be the first to touch her harp, Pay, with calm intent and fierce concentration, played her way through memorable movie scores – theme tunes from The Godfather, Harry Potter, The Deer Hunter, Romeo and Juliet, and many others. Yu and Pay finished with a delightful set of nursery rhymes for the children. Pay has played her delicious harp with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, and with artists such as Beyoncé , Michael Buble, and The Killers. Check out her music at camillapay.com
The strange thing about the concerts is that though you may go to one girding yourself up for a roomful of crying babies, you find instead that the music has a calming effect. Crawling and walking babies make a run towards the musician and their shiny instruments, while the newbies who are not quite mobile yet, find themselves drifting off to sleep in your arms.
Warning: You may just come out of a Camilla Pay concert thinking, ‘I’ve never been so happy in my entire life!’
Bach to Baby concerts take place across a number of London venues. Check out locations, timetables and prices here: bachtobaby.com
Photo by Ada Andruszkiewicz