David Simmons knew what he was in for Wednesday. So hours before the Chintimini Chamber Music Festival's annual pair of concerts for children, he stuffed himself with pancakes.

"I had to make sure I wasn't crabby," said the singer, actor and radio personality. "I didn't want to waste an opportunity like this."

From 10 to 11 a.m., and again from 3:30 to 4:30 p.m. at the Corvallis-Benton County Library, Simmons narrated two of Aesop's Fables for children ranging in age from infants to grade-schoolers. Four musicians provided music to build the drama and keep the kids engaged.

The youngsters - some sprawled across the floor directly in front of Simmons, others bouncing up and down on their mothers' laps - hung on to every word of "The Boy Who Cried Wolf" and "The Tortoise and the Hare."

Babies cried. Kids couldn't resist shouting out. But it was all part of what made the atmosphere a kid's event.

"It's a different energy than you get with adults," said Adam Esbensen, who played the cello. "It's fun to see the kids' reactions, to see them jumping up. It makes it more fun for us."

Simmons, who was narrating Chintimini's children's concerts for the fourth consecutive year, agreed.

"Yeah, the kids goof off, but you can see they're really into it," he said.

For Mary Carter and her children, ages 2 and 5, the concert was a return engagement.

"The kids were enthralled last year, so I knew it'd be a lot of fun to come back," Carter said.

Carter's son Harrison, 5, said the "wolf story" was his favorite part, but despite urging from his mom, he shied away from giving a reason other than he "just really, really liked it."

"The fact that they combine music and storytelling really helps the kids appreciate music," Carter said.

Seema Bharwani, who moved to Corvallis from Rhode Island less than a month ago, brought her 10-month-old daughter to the concert to meet other young mothers and perhaps start building a network of friends.

"It was fun, a good way to bring people together," Bharwani said.


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