Symphony Concert for Babies and Preschool Children in Ljubljana

MBZ’s Festival for CHILDREN representatives visited the capital of Slovenia to participate in the Symphony Concert for Babies and Preschool Children.

The project is part of the Global SpecifiCity Sound Festival and the three-year European project B-AIR, created in cooperation with 9 partner organizations from 8 European countries of which Radio Slovenia is the project’s holder. The project explores the role of sound and music in children’s development and upbringing, one of MBZ’s Festival for CHILDREN fundamental determinants, as well as an important topic with which this year’s biennale hit opera rosa – opera for babies deals with.


It was precisely because of these parallel interests and related projects that we connected with the B-AIR project manager Saška Rakef and the director of the Youth Center Ribnjak Pavlica Bajsić Brazzoduro (the Center is also one of the partners of the B-AIR project) to open the possibility of potential cooperation between the Zagreb Festival and Ljubljana. The first conversation was initiated already in Zagreb during the Knjige u Krošnjama festival held in Ribnjak Park, where opera rosa was also a guest.

This was followed by a reciprocal visit to Ljubljana and the performance of the Symphony for Babies. This visit, in accordance with the MBZ manifesto, works, among other things, on achieving the long-term goals of the festival through program exchanges to include young children and their parents in its next editions with the aim of developing and working with the audience. The Baby Symphony was a great example of the practice, but also an opportunity to see what the “neighbours” are doing on this front and how we form a partnership.


The concert of the RTV Slovenia Symphony Orchestra conducted by Steven Loy intended for babies, preschool children and their parents was held on June 15 in Studio 26 of Radio Slovenia, and the compositions Perpetuum mobile II by Matej Bonin and Defiance of the Glorious Children by Svetlana Maraš were performed.

Symphony Concert for Babies and Preschool Children was truly a holiday of children's laughter exhilarated by what they saw, heard, and experienced. The orchestra was placed circularly throughout the space and even the conductor changed positions during the concert. This opened up  the possibility for all children to equally and freely interact with the orchestra, other children and other adults in the audience. The entire performance in Studio 26 of Radio Slovenia was approached interdisciplinary, so after the concert a survey was conducted among parents, and during the performance the reactions of individual children were recorded.

Although this research part is conditioned by the very propositions of the European project, the data obtained in this way will certainly be a valuable legacy of the entire B-AIR story. Namely, in addition to this, the first concert was held on January 21 (So Quiet, Larisa Vrhunc), and the last one is scheduled for October 7 (Sense, Petra Strahovnik), so a total of three different Symphony Concerts for Babies and Preschool Children will be performed.


Composers Matej Bonin and Svetlana Maraš approached this project specifically keeping the youngest audience in mind, a thought interwoven in every segment of their creative process – from idea to realization. Thus, Bonin, one of the most prominent Slovenian composers of the younger and middle generation in the composition Perpetuum Mobile II, considered the possibility of creating rich sound textures from just one monophonic line.

He says his biggest challenge in the composition, which is intended for babies, was "to find something basic, but at the same time not simple". He achieved this goal because the composition is focused on one line evoking kaleidoscopic changes in color and texture of sound through a very explicit placement of instruments in a circular formation, arranged in the most elementary groups – a group of string, brass, and percussion instruments and a group of wood instruments.

Svetlana Maraš is a composer and sound artist engaged in experimental music. She based her composition Defiance of the Glorious Children on recordings of children's improvisations, expanded and interpreted by instrumental performance. She achieved this by a multichannel line-up of speakers, dividing the orchestra into smaller groups, and pushing the boundary between audience and sound (audience and orchestra). Her work thus celebrates the creativity and imagination of children, respecting their adventurous attitude in improvisation and music making.