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VIDEO: Chicago Children's Theatre's & CSO to Debut MY MAGIC BREATH

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MY MAGIC BREATH will premiere Thursday, September 10, 10 a.m. CT.

VIDEO: Chicago Children's Theatre's & CSO to Debut MY MAGIC BREATH

Chicago Children's Theatre and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra Association are set to premiere My Magic Breath, a new virtual co-production that fuses classical music and modern animation to help young children-along with their parents, caregivers, and teachers-harness the calming and restorative power of mindful breathing.

My Magic Breath was developed as a response to the COVID-19 pandemic to create a meaningful resource for children and families during this time of uncertainty. The video co-production is an extension of the ongoing partnership between Chicago Children's Theatre and the Negaunee Music Institute at the Chicago Symphony Orchestra (CSO) on the Once Upon a Symphony programs developed to introduce young children to classical music and the arts through storytelling and theatre.

It is the first in several virtual video projects the two organizations expect to release during the 2020-21 season. The Chicago Public Library is participating as a presenting partner for these special projects.

The 15-minute video, for children ages 4 to 8, will premiere Thursday, September 10 at 10 a.m. CT as part of the Chicago Public Library's "Live at the Library" series, its digital story time that has streamed live daily since April to help keep Chicago's kids engaged and learning while schools are closed.

Visit the library's Facebook page, facebook.com/chipublib/live to watch the digital world premiere screening, or go to CCTv: Virtual Theatre and Learning from Chicago Children's Theatre or cso.org/mymagicbreath.

i??Following the premiere, My Magic Breath will be posted for free, on-demand online streaming.

My Magic Breath beautifully combines animated storybook illustrations, solo musical performances by musicians from the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, and narration by First Lady of Chicago Amy Eshleman.

Rooted in calm, simple text that helps children see themselves in the illustrated characters, My Magic Breath also provides real world tools to support children's social and emotional wellbeing. Particularly during this time of uncertainty and the stress of going back to school, in-person or virtually, My Magic Breath doubles as an engaging animated program kids will enjoy, and a potential new relaxation solution for children and their families.

Based on the popular children's picture book My Magic Breath by New York Times bestselling author Nick Ortner and Alison Taylor, and illustrated by Michelle Polizzi, My Magic Breath encourages children to breathe along as they learn how to make angry or sad thoughts disappear. The video starts with the question "Do YOU have the magic breath?" Then, the First Lady of Chicago narrates this empowering and beautiful story that weaves together soothing interludes of classical music performed by CSO soloists and colorful animation by a Chicago Children's Theatre video artist to show kids how breathing can help them feel better.

Each musical vignette features a different Chicago Symphony Orchestra musician-Robert Chen, Concertmaster; Karen Basrak, cello; David Griffin, horn; Jennifer M. Gunn, flute; and Lawrence Neuman, viola-performing an excerpt from a solo work by J.S. Bach. Featured works include Bach's Cello Suite No. 1 in G Major, Prelude (Karen Basrak, cello), Cello Suite No. 1 in G Major, Gigue (David Griffin, horn), Sonata for Violin No. 1 in G Minor, Adagio (Robert Chen, violin), Flute Partita in A Minor, Corrente (Jennifer Gunn, flute) and Cello Suite No. 3 in C Major, Sarabande (Lawrence Neuman, viola).

Chicago Children's Theatre tapped Liviu Pasare, a local animator, video artist and one of CCT's longtime artistic collaborators, to create the whimsical computer animation that brings My Magic Breath to life. Pasare animated the original book's child characters, look and feel while adding playful, multi-colored swirls, clouds and stars of calm and relaxation that flow from and around the musicians' instruments as they play. The illustrated characters watch the musicians' performances and breathe along with Amy Eshleman.

In this time, My Magic Breath can help steer children into a serene space of mindfulness, self-awareness and balance. "Cell phones, iPads, social media...kids have influences that they've never had before, and they come with good and bad," said Ortner, author of My Magic Breath. "What My Magic Breath tries to do is mitigate some of the bad-not slowing down enough, not taking the time to breathe-but instead to learn to be present, to 'just be' in the world."

"The Center for Childhood Resilience has recently partnered with Chicago Children's Theatre to enhance their programs focused on teaching strategies for coping with stress and trauma in young children. We are so excited for them to share this wonderful tool for young kids and their parents to learn and practice mindfulness, " said Colleen Cicchetti, PhD, and Executive Director of Lurie Children's Hospital's Center for Childhood Resiliency.

My Magic Breath - Behind the Scenes:

The Negaunee Music Institute at the CSO and Chicago Children's Theatre have a long history of collaborating on the CSO's Once Upon a Symphony series, a program that features CSO musicians and introduces young children 3 to 5 to the amazing world of classical music. Developed in 2011 by Yo-Yo Ma during his first year as the CSO's Judson and Joyce Green Creative Consultant, the CSO has collaborated with Chicago Children's Theatre's to produce and present highly engaging, interactive live experiences for young audiences on such family-friendly musical presentations as The Ugly Duckling, The Elves and the Shoemaker and Jack and the Beanstalk.

i??"This spring, said Jon Weber, Director, School and Family Programs, Negaunee Music Institute, CSO, "since we were not able to present those vibrant and engaging live performances, CCT Artistic Director Jacqueline Russell and I began discussing how we might collaborate on content that responds to emotional challenges and anxieties that children and adults are experiencing during these uncertain times."

"We all can benefit from a few calming, 'magic breaths' on a daily basis," added Jacqueline Russell, Co-Founder and Artistic Director, Chicago Children's Theatre. "We are thrilled that this collaboration gives us an opportunity to demonstrate how the arts can help address the pressing needs of children in our city."

"I'm thrilled to join with the Chicago Children's Theatre and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra to share how classical music, theater, animation and storytelling can help children relax," said First Lady of Chicago Amy Eshleman. "To rest for a moment. To gain control of their emotions. To breathe. These days in particular, learning simple relaxation techniques to maintain positive emotional balance are important skills for children, as well as parents, teachers and caregivers."

"This partnership between cultural and civic organizations-the Chicago Symphony Orchestra Association, Chicago Children's Theatre, Chicago Public Library-is intended to increase access and enhance impact," Weber added. "We hope that My Magic Breath will be a welcome resource as children-along with parents, caregivers, and teachers-start school remotely, and that they will continue to look to arts organizations for support."

The complete My Magic Breath creative team includes Chicago Symphony Orchestra musicians Karen Basrak (cello), David Griffin (horn), Robert Chen (violin), Jennifer Gunn (flute) and Lawrence Neuman (viola); narration by First Lady of Chicago Amy Eshleman; Liviu Pasare, animation; Todd Rosenberg, videography; Charlie Post and Mat Lejeune, audio engineering; J.S. Bach, music; and, Jacqueline Russell and Jon Weber, directors. The video is inspired by the book My Magic Breath: Finding Calm Through Mindful Breathing by Nick Ortner and Alison Taylor, illustrated by Michelle Polizzi.



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