Most people remember their first concert experience — it usually represents their tastes at the time or the direction their musical palette will grow. So, starting with classical music is a great way to get children interested in the genre early.

That’s one of the aims behind the Lakewood Symphony Orchestra’s annual children’s and family concert, which will be held at 11 a.m. on Saturday, Feb. 5 at the Lakewood Cultural Center, 470 S. Allison Parkway.

According to conductor Matthew Switzer, the LSO’s children-centric concert has been around for more than 20 years and has remained a popular entry in its season. This year’s performance will be of the immortal “Peter and the Wolf.” It will also feature a young guest conductor conducting the orchestra in John Williams’ “Imperial March.”

We spoke to Switzer about the tradition, selecting music for all ages and more:

Interview edited for clarity and brevity.

Why is it important that the symphony offers a child-centric concert like this?

This concert is offered to introduce classical music to young people in a comfortable environment with their parents. The concert continues to feature new and exciting ways for the audience to discover what makes “music.” Sometimes, the audience writes a composition, sometimes they create a story to music and occasionally they find out crazy things about how instruments are made. Of course, we always offer a narrated story with music to finish off the concert.

Tell me about this year’s concert.

There will be demonstrations of the various families of instruments in the orchestra with individual looks of how different instruments produce sound. Of course, we will have to build at least one supersized instrument on stage. After that is concluded, the orchestra will perform “Peter and the Wolf” with guest narrator, Joel Hillan. “Peter and the Wolf” is a famous work by Sergei Prokofiev that uses many of the instruments in the orchestra to portray the various characters in the story. This is a great way to reintroduce our family concerts after last year when we were unable to present one.

As the conductor, what makes a show for children special/unique?

Family shows must be more than just playing and talking about the works being performed. They need to be inventive, engaging, and hopefully, if every person leaves wondering a bit more about music and how interesting it can be, we will have accomplished our goal.


Tickets and information can be found at

Editor’s note: The author is a board member of the Lakewood Symphony Orchestra.


Dazzle honors J Dilla’s legacy

Detroit’s J Dilla (James Dewitt Yancey) is one of the most important figures in hip-hop history. His work as both producer and rapper has influenced so many luminaries, including Madlib, Ye and Erykah Badu. Since his death in 2006, musicians in hip-hop and beyond have amplified and honored his work in a variety of ways and venues.

Dazzle Denver, 1512 Curtis St., is hosting “The King of Beats: J. Dilla Tribute by Manycolors” at 6:30 and 9 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 5. Manycolors is a local jazz group on the Color Red label and the performance has been endorsed by J Dilla’s mother, Maureen Yancey-Smith (Madukes), who is the founder of The James Dewitt Yancey Foundation. According to provided information, the foundation’s goals are to enhance and develop urban programs in inner-cities and academia.


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Whiskey the winter chill away

The cold of winter is the perfect time to really get into (or appreciate) whiskey. The drink’s scene is constantly growing and deepening, and to stay up to date on what’s happening, The Winter Whiskey Tasting Festival offers tasters (both new and connoisseurs) the chance to do some serious sampling.

The festival is from 2:30 to 6 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 29, at the Blake Street Tavern, 2301 Blake St. in Denver. Some of the makers include Barrell Craft Spirits, Mythology Distillery and The Long Drink Company. Visitors can select from a bevy of experience options, including ultra-high-end brands and more. There will also be food options, gift specials and more.

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Clarke’s Concert of the Week — Samia at the Bluebird Theatre

If you decide to live by the maxim that one should be judged by the company they keep, then Samia Najimy Finnerty, professionally known as Samia, should be judged extremely well. She’s released just one proper album and has already been co-signed by indie favorites like Bartees Strange and Palehound. In 2021 she released an EP called “Scout” that gives tantalizing glimpses of where she might go next.


At 8 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 3, Samia will be stopping by the Bluebird Theater, 3317 E. Colfax Ave. in Denver. This is an opportunity to see an up-and-coming talent on an intimate stage before they really get really big – could be a great addition to your “I saw them before they got big” list.

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Clarke Reader’s column on culture appears on a weekly basis. He can be reached at