NSO concert caters to individuals with sensory issues

Mar 15, 2017

Credit nashvillesymphony.org

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (RHIANNON GILBERT) -- The Nashville Symphony Orchestra will host its first sensory-friendly concert this month. ‘Reach for the Stars’ will be a concert that welcomes everyone, including people on the autism spectrum and those with disabilities that cause sensory sensitivities.

This type of concert is something that the Symphony Center has wanted to do for a long time,

according to the Symphony Center’s Education and Community Engagement Program Manager Kelley Bell.

“Part of our mission is to reflect and serve the whole Nashville community and Middle Tennessee community. The Nashville community is incredibly diverse, and that includes neurodiversity,” Bell said. “We really wanted to connect our programming and make that accessible to everybody.”

People with autism and sensory disabilities are often very sensitive to their environments, making it difficult to sit still in traditional concert venues. At this concert, audience members are free to move around and react to the music during the performance.

Bell wants families who deal with disabilities to feel a sense of ownership of the Nashville Symphony’s programming.

“I also hope that families who don’t have kids on the autism spectrum also get to engage significantly with children that do,” Bell explained. “One of the goals for this concert is that it is a family concert, it’s not exclusively for students or kids on the autism spectrum. It is for everyone.”

The concert will also feature guest performer Logan Blade, a 25-year-old singer with nonverbal autism who communicates with the world through music. His talent became widely recognized when he sang with Josh Turner at the Grand ole Opry in 2013.

He now regularly performs around Nashville, and has released a country cover album, titled “Fitting In.”

Activities preceding the concert will feature crafts, and instrument “petting zoo,” and other local organizations that offer inclusive programming.

“I also hope to merge some of the things we’re learning and applying to this one with some of our other education and community programs,” Bell said.

‘Reach for the Stars’ is set to run on Saturday, March 25.