Bach to Baby is the critically acclaimed concert series for babies, toddlers, and their carers. It was started in London by a Miaomiao Yu, herself a concert pianist, and has just arrived in Oxford – at St Michael at the North Gate, Cornmarket.
I was invited along to review Bach to Baby for Mumbler – and although classical music isn’t something I know anything about, I was really excited to try something new. I’ve never been to anything like Bach to Baby and, as far as I know, it’s one of a kind here in Oxford.
The doors open at 10.00, 30 minutes before the concert begins, giving you lots of time to get comfortable. My plan was to arrive at 9.55 so I could take full advantage, but predictably failed miserably. Due to a series of errors on my part I scraped through the door with my four month old two minutes before the concert started, stressed and soggy from the rain.
No matter, we were warmly welcomed by Miaomiao, who showed me where everything was – tea, coffee and snacks for sale, toilets, and a room set up to be a buggy park, with a table in the corner for nappy changing. I was impressed straightaway with how much care and attention had been taken to make sure it was really little people friendly.
I settled down in a pew with a coffee and a biscuit and took in the surroundings. It’s the perfect venue – a beautiful little church and it felt really cosy, especially on such a miserable grey day. There’s a lot of lighting in there too, great eye candy for babies, and my son particularly enjoyed staring at the chandelier-y type ones!
Miaomiao then introduced the musicians – two stars of the classical music world: Claire Wild, soprano, and Petra Milarova, pianist – and made us feel at home by saying it was fine for the babies and toddlers to move around, make noise, feed, eat, drink, and likewise for the parents. Phew, I thought!
Also, tea, coffee and snacks (baby friendly snacks also available) are for sale throughout the performance, which I thought was a really nice touch – never stand in the way of a sleep-deprived parent and their caffeine!
The concert then began and from start to finish the music was absolutely beautiful. The musicians were so talented, and it felt really special to be so close to them. They were really warm and friendly too, introducing each song and making such an effort to engage the little ones, by explaining the stories behind the songs and getting us to do actions to some of them. There were no pretentions whatsoever, just a really relaxed and happy atmosphere.
My son definitely enjoyed the music, as much as a four month old can show they are enjoying something! He was smiling and gurgling away. It was such a nice thing to do with a baby because you can do all the usual stuff – feeding, cuddling, winding, trying to settle him, etc – while enjoying the music. You don’t have to miss out on anything.
The older ones there seemed to be enjoying to it too, and there was lots of crawling and toddling around the pews. The concert closed with a few nursery rhymes that we all joined in with, and a goodbye song.
It was an hour but went really quickly and I definitely want to go again. Bach to Baby feels like having your cake and eating it – you can enjoy it as an adult enjoying a grown up thing for yourself, but then also as a parent having quality time with your child at something totally geared up for them to have a great time too.
Tickets are £10 per adult and all children are FREE! Next concerts in Oxford are:
St Michael at the North Gate, Cornmarket Thursday 25th October 2018, 10.30am – ‘Strings Attached’ featuring Ahmed Dickinson, guitar Thursday 22nd November 2018, 10.30am Thursday 20th December 2018, 10.30am – Back to Baby Family Christmas Concert
St Michael and All Angels Church, Summertown Saturday 8th December 2018, 11.00am – Back to Baby Family Christmas Concert
Oxford Mumbler was given a free ticket for this concert, however nothing could swing me to write a dishonest review! Everything I’ve written here is a true reflection of our outing.
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