Remembering childhood 

As part of the new, free White River State Park Family Arts Series, the Indianapolis Chamber Orchestra will present a collaborative program with Grammy Award-winning children’s artist and Indianapolis favorite Bill Harley in a concert of storytelling and live music.

Billboard Magazine describes Harley: “If Calvin of Calvin and Hobbes fame were to grow up, he’d be Bill Harley.”

While Harley’s subjects tend toward childhood and the perils involved in growing up, adults enjoy reminiscing along with him, so that his program can remain somewhat constant, if fluid. “It [the program] changes,” Harley says. “One thing about working with families — adults and kids — is I can eyeball the audience and see who’s there. But, working with the Chamber Orchestra I’m not allowed to tell them what I am doing at the last minute (laughs). It’s planning as opposed to solo. I feel like I can talk about family life and stuff kids and parents go through and everyone can listen. A lot of what I do works with all audiences.”

Harley sees childhood as a common denominator among adults and kids: Everyone can relate. “Everything we do as adults came from what happened to us as kids. If I can go back there and be honest and insightful and touch something in all of us ... It’s what Mark Twain and Bill Cosby did. Coming of age resonates with all of us. Childhood doesn’t have the sense of irony, complexity and gray areas as adulthood. We first felt as kids. I want [the audience to] re-experience that.”

Pieces will range from “There’s a Pea on My Plate,” which depicts a child confronting his mother over pea-eating, to movement IV from Beethoven’s Symphony No. 7.

The performance is June 28 at 2:30 p.m. and will take place in the outdoor Celebration Amphitheater in White River State Park. For more information, go to



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