Our Mission at Maestro Classics:
To cultivate a love of music through education and joyful performances, to expand and develop listening skills and encourage adults and children to listen together.
About Maestro Classics
Maestro Classics™ began in 2004 in Washington, DC as Magic Maestro Music™. The outgrowth of over a decade of sold-out concerts for young people and their parents at the Kennedy Center with the Washington Chamber Symphony, music director Stephen Simon and executive director Bonnie Ward Simon turned their efforts to sharing their gifts with a wider audience. Experience had convinced them that if you educated as you entertained, were sophisticated enough to interest parents as well as children, and offered only the finest musical performances, all children could appreciate symphonic music.
Maestro Classics CDs are our gift to the next generation. The personal journey began at the Kennedy Center when the conductor and executive director of an orchestra had a son. He had no interest in toys, loving only books and music. Here is how the story began...
"I was sitting in the concert hall next to my young son Basil. He had been begging for the opportunity to hear his father conduct the Washington Chamber Symphony. Basil was patiently waiting for the concert to begin…until the moment his father walked onto the stage, baton in hand. Suddenly, with lightening speed, young Basil was on his feet, arms raised, and “Dad!” rang through the sold-out hall. Needless to say, he was rushed from the hall and missed a glorious concert. At that moment, I knew I had a mission: to find a way to bring quality age-appropriate concert experiences to children and their families."
– Bonnie Ward Simon
So began the original concerts at the Kennedy Center with the Washington Chamber Symphony, so began the Stories in Music project for the Stories in Music series also at the Kennedy Center, and so began the Maestro Classics CD series. After years of people coming backstage saying, "I bought my ticket for Peter and the Wolf, but I really loved The Story of Swan Lake," we finally decided to record the many works in our files with the London Philharmonic Orchestra.
Together, the Simons created their signature format, alternating music with talking, and explanations with musical adventures.
The title track is always a work for narrator and orchestra, where the music is just as important as the story. This is followed by background information about the life and times of the work and/or the composer. Then a new musical genre is introduced, taking a theme from the title track and transforming it into jazz, folk, Dixieland, heavy metal, or other style.
This is followed by the conductor talking about what to listen for in the music with musical examples. You are then invited to listen again, sometimes with the narration, sometimes without, and people are always astounded at how much more they hear with their new “educated” ears. Finally, each CD ends with a play-along, sing-along, or dance-along track, because participating in the music-making is always fun.
The inclusion of the program booklet that accompanies every CD includes biographies, interesting information on a variety of related subjects, both musical and non-musical, and is illustrated by a noted artist or children’s book illustrator whose work reflects the spirit of the music.
Stephen Simon (music director) with Bonnie Ward Simon (executive producer and creative director)
Making Music is Fun!
We love what we do. Who wouldn’t love being surrounded by music? Or flying to London to conduct the London Philharmonic Orchestra? Or working with award-winning children’s book illustrators to design children’s musical activity books? Or recording with all sorts of fun musical groups– jazz trios, Dixieland bands, Russian folk trios, huge marching bands, rock bands? These are just a few of the reasons we do what we do at Maestro Classics.