Chris Petschler and Nicole Hren in "Vivaldi's Ring of Mystery" with The Cleveland Orchestra at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts in downtown Miami, FL.


Classical Kids Music Education, NFP is the exclusive international producer of the highly-acclaimed Classical Kids Live! symphony concert series. The series, which tours North America and abroad in collaboration with professional orchestras, is well-known and respected its field. These popular theatrical concerts currently average fifty performances each season with approximately twenty major orchestral organizations, reaching up to one hundred thousand children and their parents annually. Classical Kids Live! is a programming cornerstone for many orchestras and is an integral and ongoing component of family and educational symphony concerts throughout the United States and Canada.

By partnering with professional orchestras, the Classical Kids Live! symphony concert series helps to enrich the communities that it serves through direct access to culturally significant venues, professional artists, organizations, and productions, while fostering new appreciation for classical music and music history. Each production inspires audiences with more than twenty-five musical excerpts, which are woven into the drama as two professional actors share anecdotes and observations based on true incidents from the composer’s life. The fully-staged productions, including Beethoven Lives Upstairs, Tchaikovsky Discovers America, Vivaldi’s Ring of Mystery, Mozart’s Magnificent Voyage and Gershwin’s Magic Key, are underscored by approximately fifty on-stage musicians and feature period costumes, props, set pieces and theatrical lightning.


The Classical Kids
Teaching Edition

In addition to the live concert experience, children gain a greater understanding of classical music through curriculum materials, musician visits, and cultural presentations right in their classrooms. CKME supplies education materials that offer teachers and students essential connections between the concert performance and classroom learning and are supplied in combination with the productions to provide music study preparation in local classrooms of cities where we tour. These cross-curriculum guides enable educators to provide exceptional instruction and encourage children to engage with classical music masterpieces and the vibrant culture of that era. The resources were developed in coordination with US National Standards for Arts Education and meet or exceed MENC’s Educate America Act.


Music Inspires! is a week-long, elementary school special project collaboration between Classical Kids Live!, the Oistrakh Symphony of Chicago and Communities in Schools designed to expose economically under privileged children to the joys of classical music and the extraordinary lives of the great classical music composers. We believe that arts-education can inspire a personal excellence in children that will lead to greater achievement in life.

The Chicago school district has endured extreme budget cuts in light of the recent economic situation and general trends in educational funding. 77% of its 427,000 students live below the poverty line and must rely on alternative art programming provided free through collaboration with external arts partners to ensure that students can benefit from arts education. Music Inspires! serves to help fill the gap in offering free music education programming that builds self-confidence, provides positive development, and creates enrichment opportunities for many at-risk Chicago students.

We are committed to growing the important and ongoing presentation of Music Inspires! at Chicago Public Schools. But we need your help. Chicago Public Schools are in need of this free programming, and we rely completely on financial support from individual donors and local grants to present Music Inspires!


Help support Music Inspires!

It is with your invaluable support that we will be able to continue this inspiring arts, culture, and music education outreach program. Will you help? Please consider visiting our DONATE page to give in support of this worthy program.



Classical Kids is proud to name our world-wide expansion initiative in honor of Dick Helser, the late father of our Angel Donor, Berit Helser. This initiative offers smaller-budget orchestras discounted access to the Classical Kids touring production repertoire.

The Richard C. Helser “Every Orchestra, Every Child” initiative allows tens of thousands of children around the world, many of whom are economically under privileged, the opportunity to experience the joys of classical music.

We are forever grateful to the Helser family for helping Classical Kids provide new generations of children with an exciting and educational point of entry into the world of classical music.

If you are interested in providing additional funding for an orchestra or sponsoring a Classical Kids performance, or if you’d like to learn more about the Every Orchestra, Every Child Initiative, please contact Holly Robison at holly@classicalkidsnfp.org


Hallelujah Handel produced by the Southwest Suburban Symphony

We believe that every child deserves access to high-quality arts programming, and we’re very interested in working with every orchestra to bring the magic of classical music to their communities, especially in smaller or rural areas. Our new licensing initiative is designed to give lower-budgeted orchestras the opportunity to self-produce a Classical Kids Live! show for a reduced fee.* For more information, please contact Paul Pement at paul@classicalkidsnfp.org.

*This license-only rental agreement is available to lower-budgeted orchestras outside of a non-compete radius of larger orchestras currently booked. It is also available to orchestras outside of the US that wish to present a CKL production in a language other than English.


Classical Kids strives to provide children with an exciting point of entry into the world of classical music by humanizing the lives of the great composers and creating an emotional connection to their musical masterpieces. We are honored to share our vision in many diverse cities across the globe, but it is our local expansion initiative that holds a particularly special place in our hearts. Over the past few years we have found partnership in wonderful Chicago-based organizations who share our dedication to nurturing our city and its youth through the power of classical music.



CKL and Oistrakh perform Beethoven Lives Upstairs at Navy Pier, July 2018

Our Music Inspires! program continues to thrive due to our indispensable partnership with the Oistrakh Symphony of Chicago, whose dedication to cultivating Chicago’s cultural life through positive community change aligns perfectly with our own mission. For the past six years, Oistrakh’s Music Director Mina Zikri and members of the symphony have joined Classical Kids for a weeklong special project designed to introduce elementary schoolers in the Chicago Public School system to the joys of classical music and the extraordinary lives of the great composers. Oistrakh is also devoted to the idea of reimagining the listening experience by performing in unexpected venues that help to extinguish the formal separation between audience and orchestra. In July 2018 we were able to engage that devotion by collaborating on an exciting outdoor production of Beethoven Lives Upstairs as part of Fresh Fest at Navy Pier. 

“On behalf of the Oistrakh Symphony of Chicago, I wish to express our excitement for the upcoming season as we partner with Classical Kids Music Education. The vision of the Oistrakh Symphony Orchestra includes a robust commitment to educating children and families across Chicago. We are dedicated not only to expanding the audience of classical music, but to sharing the vital skill of music appreciation and a deeper understanding of humanity through the arts. We look forward to developing a season that accomplishes this mission alongside the leadership and talented performers at Classical Kids!”

-Emma Smoler, Executive Director, Oistrakh Symphony of Chicago


Gershwin’s Magic Key with the Quad City Symphony

In addition to the creation of brand new full length productions, we are always finding ways to keep our Classical Kids Live! program repertoire fresh and exciting. Costume reimaginings, prop, wig and musical score updates, as well as the integration of entirely new performance elements (such as the dazzling projections used in Gershwin’s Magic Key, pictured above), are several ways we continue to revitalize our programming.

If you are interested in discussing funding opportunities for particular creation enhancements of CKL’s productions, please email Artistic Director, Paul Pement, at paul@classicalkidsnfp.org.


Classical Kids Music Education continues to look ahead to future opportunities for growth that will expand our reach and the number of children we serve. Our aspirational vision includes the following exciting opportunities.

Social Media Growth: Follow the complete tour experience on Youtube and through Podcast interviews with actors, conductors and musicians. 

Administrative Growth: Support the full-time hiring of key staff positions to increase work capacity and allow for increased funding and programming opportunities.

Online Interactive Classroom: Develop a comprehensive distance learning forum that will offer connections and resources to student musicians and allow all children, especially those in rural areas, to participate in CKL’s programing.

Capital Campaign: Establish a new community home location in Chicago offering early childhood music education classes and resources while providing much needed production and administrative space.

If you’re interested in playing a strong supporting role in helping us to achieve our aspirational goals, please contact Executive & Artistic Director, Paul Pement, at paul@classicalkidsnfp.org