The N.C. Symphony is dedicated to serving all North Carolinians with orchestral music — and guided by that mission, the symphony will present its first-ever sensory-friendly concert at Meymandi Concert Hall in Raleigh Saturday, Sept. 14 at 1 p.m.
The sensory-friendly concert is designed to be welcoming to all families, including children and adults with autism, sensory sensitivities and other special needs.
A relaxed attitude toward movement and noise in the concert hall will encourage those with differing needs to fully enjoy and express themselves at this concert of classical family favorites.
Among other accommodations, audience members will be welcomed to move out of their seats, sing along or talk.
Noise-canceling headphones, fidget toys or other items needed to create a comfortable environment will be permitted in the concert hall.
In line with established practices for sensory-friendly performances, the concert hall will remain partially lit, and a designated quiet space will be provided for individuals who need a moment to step out of the concert and relax in a private area.
Materials that detail the concert experience from start to finish will be distributed in advance of the concert day to prepare audiences for what to expect at the symphony.
Wheelchair seating, American Sign Language interpretation and Braille and large-print programs will be available.
While many of these practices accommodate the needs of families in the autism community and others with sensory sensitivities, the one-hour, fun-filled performance will be inclusive of individuals of all ages and abilities.
“It is so important that people of differing needs and abilities have the opportunity to experience the power of orchestral music, and we are proud that this special performance by the North Carolina Symphony is all-access,” said Jennie Wallace, chairperson of the NCS Education Committee. “We are thrilled to expand our reach and bring new faces into the concert hall for this family-friendly afternoon.”
The concert, conducted by NCS Music Director Grant Llewellyn, will feature familiar classical music.
It will be hosted by Andy Pidcock, an industry leader in creating programming that makes music accessible to all. Mr. Pidcock and Mr. Llewellyn previously worked together on a relaxed concert presented by the BBC National Orchestra of Wales at the 2016 Proms.
NCS musicians are also passionate about this initiative, including Kim Van Pelt, associate principal French horn, who is the mother of a child with autism.
“When you’re the parent of a special-needs child, you need places where you can go and feel safe,” she said. “It’s just as important for parents to feel safe – to know that you are in an environment where, no matter what happens, it’s all okay. There is a big need for this – bigger than most people realize.”
Audience members are encouraged to arrive up to an hour before show-time to try out instruments at the Instrument Zoo and meet new friends.
Concert tickets are family affordable at $5 each with a flexible refund policy.
For complete details and tickets, visit ncsymphony.org/events/295/family-fun-4-everyone-sensory-friendly-concert/.