Thinking about what to do with your kids this summer in Switzerland? Hiking in the Alps? A walk to Lake Geneva? Visiting the new Komodo dragon vivarium in Lausanne?

Of course we must not forget that Switzerland is a beautiful country in which to introduce children to music. Possible festivals include Lilibiggs on the shore of Lake Neuchâtel, which presents concerts of salsa and rock for 3-10 year olds, the Land of Children (d'Oex, Rougemont Castle-Rossinière) for French song and folk, or BimBadaBoum in Chêne-Bougeries.

Genève, et Montreux vus depuis Les Rochers de Naye © Zacharie Grossen
Genève, et Montreux vus depuis Les Rochers de Naye
© Zacharie Grossen
Classical music also has its place in all this. For example, in Geneva, you can visit Piccolo Opera, an opera for school children and adolescents. The Orchestre de la Suisse Romande has its playful Concert Preludes, short programs presented in a relaxed manner. In Nyon, Bubble Air organizes over fifty summer courses in music, dance and theatre.

And then nearby in France there is the Festival Des Arcs, Bourg-Saint-Maurice, which annually attracts around 15,000 spectators, and always give a few hours on its multiple stages for young lovers of classical music. From 19 July to 3 August 2014, the 41st edition of the festival which this year focuses on Spanish chamber music at the foot of the Alps.

This year, the focus of their programme for young people is a nice melodrama: The Story of Babar by Francis Poulenc.

"Mariage et couronement du roi Babar et de la reine Céleste." - The Morgan Library & Museum © Histoire de Babar, le petit éléphant, 1931. Jean de Brunhoff (1899–1937)
"Mariage et couronement du roi Babar et de la reine Céleste." - The Morgan Library & Museum
© Histoire de Babar, le petit éléphant, 1931. Jean de Brunhoff (1899–1937)
We do not necessarily associate Poulenc with tales for children. But one day, his four year old cousin, who did not appreciate his atonal compositions, put her children's book on the piano, asking him to play it as if it was a musical score. From his musical improvisation and narrative a piece was born in 1940. Jean de Brunhoff's children's story has lost nothing over time. It is the story of the baby elephant who loses his mother and is then rescued by a lady who dresses him in clothes and gives him a car. But Babar misses the forests and is delighted when his cousins ​​Arthur and Celeste, bring him back home. When he saves the King of the Elephants from being poisoned by mushrooms, Babar is elected to succeed him as king. He marries Celeste, and in the end, he is happy, dreaming of her future contemplating the stars.

The charming version for chamber orchestra and narrator, heir to classics like Peter and the Wolf, will appeal to all ages. Adults will probably appreciate the varied score, decorated with pieces like daydreaming, gallops, waltzes, nocturnes ...

The rest of the concert program for young audiences is centered around Charlie Chaplin short films set to music. These improvisations, according to the public who have enjoyed them in past years, may well be inspiring!

You still want good news? All concerts at Festival des Arcs are free.