The Philadelphia Orchestra and Florida’s New World Symphony are among the orchestras that have recently modified concerts to make them more sensory-friendly. The Philadelphia Orchestra is modifying its “Sound All Around” interactive family programs, which feature orchestra members and storyteller Charlotte Blake Alston. Lighting and amplified sounds are mid-level, and children may move, vocalize, and express themselves freely. The modifications are aimed at families with children ages three to five who are on the autism spectrum, and also make concerts welcoming to others with sensory sensitivities. The first concert in the series took place on October 15, with four more in November, January, March, and April. In Miami Beach, the New World Symphony opened the first of eleven free 2016-17 outdoor Wallcast concerts on October 15, and is offering a sensory-friendly environment “allowing people living with sensory processing and autism spectrum disorders to enjoy a range of music,” said NWS President and CEO Howard Herring. The New World Center’s SunTrust Pavilion, which has a large screen, will provide visuals of Wallcast concerts along with reduced volume levels and noise-redacting headphones, reduced lighting, and beds and soft bungee chairs. A quiet room is available, with Jackson Memorial Hospital volunteers on hand to provide arts, crafts, and other resources for children. New World’s initiative was piloted at last season’s Wallcast concerts.
Posted October 19, 2016
Pictured: A young audience member at a sensory-friendly performance at the Kennedy Center in Washington. D.C. Photo by Scott Suchman