new music for early childhood development

Children’s & Family Programs

What are Ensemble Offspring’s Children’s & Family Programs?

The benefits of music for cognitive development at all stages of learning are widely proven, and an essential part of our mission is inspiring music makers and music lovers from an early age. Our Children’s & Family Programs incorporate lively concerts (including our annual Sizzle event), thought-provoking theatre-style shows, podcasts and education kits for early childhood and primary school age listeners. In recent years Ensemble Offspring has collaborated with key partners including the Sydney Opera House and ABC Classic Kids to create and produce several shows and podcasts introducing young ears to the innovative sound worlds of Australia. These include Bilby’s Bluegum Melodies (2017-2019), Sounds like Australia (2018), Music for the Dreaming (2018) and Pipe Dreams Green (Way Out West Festival – 2015).

In Focus

Sonic Sites (2021)

Sonic Sites is an acoustic exploration and an immersive, participatory sonic performance. The first Sonic Sites event in 2021 was set on the fabulous landscape of Bundanon Reserve, in the Shoalhaven region of NSW. Enlisting local Nowra musicians and students of Nowra East Public School, Ensemble Offspring and composers Brenda Gifford, Damian Barbeler, Bree van Reyk, Tristan Coelho and Amanda Cole occupied the natural and built spaces at Bundanon to explore the acoustic and resonant potential of each site, as video Artist Sam James projected light-drawings using captured video footage of the musicians’ movements. Vocal and music workshops with local Indigenous students were be held on site and audience members were invited to participate in the aural activation and sonic mapping of Bundanon on the day of the concert.

Sizzle (2010-current)

Engaging families for over a decade now, Sizzle was conceived by Ensemble Offspring as an alternative musical event for Sydney in winter – a way of getting classical music off the podium and into a regular Sunday arvo. A relaxed and casual affair including food, drinks and bingo, expect avant-garde contemporary classics mashed up with pop music, early music, late music and eye-boggling theatrical wonders, all dished up in a casual and cosy setting. Families, friends and flatmates are all welcome at Sizzle. Over the years we have collaborated with Tempe and Bellevue Hill School Bands, Sirens Big Band, Holly Throsby, Grand Salvo, Satsuki Odomura Koto Ensemble and Marcus Whale. In 2018 Sizzle branched out of the Petersham Bowling Club and travelled to the Goulburn Club (co-presented by the Hume Conservatorium), in 2019 Sizzle hit Taree Band Hall and in 2021 Sizzle tours to Orange Regional Conservatorium. Let us know if your town would like to create a unique Sizzle with Ensemble Offspring!

2021 Sizzle Showreel

Featuring Mindy Meng Wang (guzheng) in duo with Claire Edwardes, Jessica O’Donoghue (voice) with Alyx Dennison (voice/keys) and Georgia Mooney (voice), a solo set by Hatched Associate Artist Will Hansen (double bass), and Ensemble Offspring premiering new works by Solly Frank, Ned McGowan, Megan Alice Clune and Robert Davidson. The Great Club, 2021.

2019 Sizzle Showreel

Featuring Tempe 2044 Performing Band and Samurai Cuneo (tabla) performing new works by Alice Chance, Jason Noble and Jess Green. Lamorna Nightingale performing Cat Hope with design by Elia Bosshard, Hatched Associate Artist Henry Justo (viola) plus Jodi Phillis (voice) with Ensemble Offspring as backing band. Petersham Bowling Club, 2019.

2018 Sizzle Showreel

Featuring special guests Satsuki Odamura Koto Ensemble, Alice Chance and the world premiere of her Audience Choir, Gerogina Oakes (Hatched Academy – clarinet), Sonya Lifschitz (piano) and Ensemble Offspring for new works by Erik Griswold and Ciaran Frame plus a classic by David Lang. In the basement Liz Jigalin and her sound parcels. Petersham Bowling Club, 2018.

2017 Sizzle Showreel

Outdoors with Liz Jigalin’s Interactive Gardens and Your Ears Are Appreciated. with 2017 Hatched Academy participants, Kieren Welch, Luke Carbon, Ciaran Frame and Jasmin Leung. Also featuring Ellen Kirkwood’s Sirens Big Band and the premieres of Aviva Endean’s Ping Pong Pop and Bree van Reyk’s Light for the First Time. Petersham Bowling Club, 2017.

2016 Sizzle Showreel

Featuring Cor Fuhler’s outdoor installation Lady Bell and the Rules of Lawn Bowling plus 2016 Hatched participants Julia Reidy, Mary Rapp and David Moran. Premiering Thomas Meadowcroft’s Medieval Rococo and a new version of Steve Reich’s Eight Lines. Finishing with a set from Stereogamous. Petersham Bowling Club, 2016.

2015 Sizzle Showreel

John Cage’s Musicircus meets Sizzle with special guests Jess Green, Hatched Academy participants Dan Thorpe (Bells), Samuel Smith (bells), Jodi Rottle (flute) and Jacob Abela (piano). Presented with Marrickville Council as part of Spectrum Now Festival at the Red Rattler Theatre. ‘You won’t hear anything: you’ll hear everything.’ John Cage.

2014 Sizzle video

John Zorn’s Cobra featuring 2014 Hatched Academy participants Jeremy Rose (saxophone) and Callum G’Froerer (trumpet) plus Robbie Avenaim (conductor). Also featuring special guests Cor Fuhler (guitar – RIP), Clayton Thomas (double bass), Jim Denley (saxophone), Laurence Pike and Ensemble Offspring core members. Petersham Bowling Club, 2014.

2012 Sizzle Video

Kate Rowe presents her kids song A Family Outing with Ensemble Offspring members, Claire Edwardes, Bree van Reyk and Jason Noble as backing band. Also featuring the accordion virtuoso James Crabb alongside Ryan Morrison leading the audience sing along. Petersham Bowling Club, 2012.

2010 Showreel Video

An excerpt of Terry Riley’s classic In C with special guests Holly Throsby (piano C), Zoe Hauptmann (double bass), Evan Mannell (drums), Julia Sharratt (flute), Jens Birchall (cello) plus Ensemble Offspring core members. Petersham Bowling Club, 2010.

ABC Classic Kids Shows (2018)

A collaboration between ABC Classic Kids, Classic FM, the Sydney Opera House and Ensemble Offspring, combining forces to present two live shows, two podcasts and CD releases for ages 1-7. Young ears get to discover how sound can tell Australian stories in this engaging musical experience. “The perfect adventure to start your mini musicians on a lifetime of classical music.” – Artsplorers (2018)

 ABC Classic Kids podcast series

 CD review in Loudmouth

Sounds Like Australia

Original new arrangements by Jessica Wells of works by Iain Grandage, Nigel Westlake, Ross Edwards, Martin Wesley-Smith and Jessica Wells. Recording features narrator/singer Luke Carroll and Ensemble Offspring. Directed by Tim McGarry.
When Kirra Quokka finds a lost concert ticket, she sets off on a big musical adventure. With the help of her friends Kirra travels the length of the country from her home on sleepy Rottnest Island all the way to the bright lights of the Sydney Opera House!


Music for the Dreaming

Original new music by Brenda Gifford and Jessica Wells. Narrator/singer Kamil Ellis and Ensemble Offspring. Directed by Tim McGarry.
‘Music for The Dreaming’ is inspired by the seasons and the natural environment around Wreck Bay on the NSW south coast. Through Aunty Brenda’s music, and the stories and cultural teachings of Budawang Elder from the Yuin Nation Noel Butler, kids learn about the ‘old ways’ of life and the changing of the seasons in Yuin Country. This release was nominated for a 2019 ARIA Award for Best Children’s Album. 


Past Programs

Bilby’s Bluegum Melodies (2017-present)

Join Ensemble Offspring for an all-Australian introduction to the wonders of chamber music, suitable for families with toddlers and upwards. Featuring clarinet, percussion and piano with narration from all the musicians telling the story of Bilby and her friends. Featuring old-fashioned colonial folk tunes, sounds of the Australian bush, instrumental demonstrations, hands-on percussion fun and much loved music by Australian composers. Performances are generally at central theatre locations and aimed at large school groups, childcare centre groups and toddlers and their families. Contact us about bringing the show to your town!

“The future of Australian classical music is in very good hands with this exceptional ensemble.” – Cath Dadd, JSPAC Watch the showreel


Graffiti Score (2016)

Casula Powerhouse Arts Centre

About: A collaborative project with local graffiti artists and music students from Miller Tech High School in Western Sydney, celebrating the beguiling on-site graffiti at CPAC. The project not only resulted in a striking new visual artwork, but also a giant musical score that Ensemble Offspring along with local students, who were invited to turn into sound. Using their footsteps as a beat, musicians followed line, colour and texture as a set of musical instructions.


Music with Changing Parts

Four Winds Festival and fLing Physical Theatre
As part of the free, opening concert of the 2016 Four Winds Festival at Bermagui, Ensemble Offspring presented Philip Glass’ Music for Changing Parts in collaboration with local youth physical theatre company, fLiNg Physical Theatre, directed by Carlos Gomes. It was a journey into the mesmerising, electro-acoustic sound dimensions of Philip Glass in an evening exploring art, movement, time and space with some of the talented local youth of Bega.


Pipe Dreams Green (2015)

Way Out West Festival, Casula Powerhouse Arts Centre

ABOUT: In the centre of Casula Powerhouse’s vast Turbine Hall a giant tree-like structure was created from brightly coloured green plastic tubes: a garish clash of organic forms and artificial materials. Over the course of the 2015 Way Out West Festival, the tree grew. Not upwards, but outwards. Root-like tendrils began to snake around the Turbine Hall space matting around one another to form magical wave-like forms. More startling still, at periodic intervals absurd workers armed with leaf-blowers performed the structure as though it was a surreal pipe-organ come pan-pipe. Created by Damien Ricketson and performed by Ensemble Offspring and dancer Kathy Cogill.


Music to Infinity (2013)

As well as touring Music to Infinity to regional conservatoriums throughout NSW, Ensemble Offspring presented this show for keen young ears in collaboration with early childhood presenter Sterre De Raedt at the Concertgebouw in Brugge in Belgium. The imaginative concert program explores the infinite realms of 21st Century music making with mesmerising dancing hands, blindfolds and childhood stories with a backbeat – sheer delight for the young and the young at heart.



Tierkreis (2009/2010)

Sydney Conservatorium of Music & on Tour
ABOUT: The 12 Zodiacs experienced through the unique ears of the legendary Karlheinz Stockhausen. Comprised of twelve sublime melodies, Tierkreis (Zodiac) has been described as the Für Elise of Stockhausen due to its immediately memorable and affectionate quality. Tierkreis was originally written for specially-designed music boxes in the children’s theatre piece Musik im Bauch, one of which Ensemble Offspring owns and uses in this show. Tierkreis is not written for specific instruments but has to be ‘assembled’ for every new performance. Each melody is like a piece of DNA – a magical set of relationships between pitches and rhythms – that can grow into innumerable forms.