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The Philadelphia Orchestra Offers Relaxed Sensory Friendly Sound All Around Performances

October 11, 2016

(Philadelphia, October 11, 2016)—As part of The Philadelphia Orchestra’s desire to serve all audiences, it is modifying its Saturday award-winning Sound All Around series, presented by PNC Grow Up Great, to make them sensory friendly. These concerts serve families with 3-5 year-olds on the autism spectrum and any others who may benefit from performances customized for those with sensory sensitivities. The performances take place on Saturday, October 15 (Strings, featuring cello); Saturday, November 19 (Percussion); Saturday, January 7 (Winds, featuring English horn); Saturday, March 11 (Brass, featuring tuba); and Saturday, April 1 (Ensemble). Sound All Around concerts are interactive programs with members of The Philadelphia Orchestra and award-winning storyteller Charlotte Blake Alston. Each concert introduces the audience to a member of the string, woodwind, brass, or percussion family, and the final concert features all of the musicians from the season playing together in an ensemble. Concerts are 45 minutes long and a great way for kids, families, daycares, and school groups to have fun with music. Sound All Around was named Philadelphia magazine’s Best of Philly® 2014–Best Music for Kids Program. There are two performances each day, beginning at 10 AM and 11:15 AM, in the Academy of Music Ballroom. 

Relaxed performances are designed to provide a concert experience that is welcoming, inclusive, and comfortable for children and families with sensory sensitivities, as well as anyone who would benefit from a more relaxed environment. The goal is to create a safe and accepting setting where children, including those on the autism spectrum and those with other developmental disabilities, and their families can experience live music together. Lighting and amplified sounds will be mid-level, and children are invited to move, vocalize, get up to walk around, and otherwise express themselves freely.   

The Orchestra’s Sound All Around concerts are the first inclusive public sensory friendly experiences in the city of Philadelphia by a cultural institution. 

“We are passionate about offering performances that serve all Philadelphians,” said Orchestra President and CEO Allison Vulgamore. “Few things are more rewarding than watching a child respond to music, and we wanted to make this wonderful experience possible to families who might not have previously been able to attend.” 

“I’m thrilled to see The Philadelphia Orchestra welcoming children and families who often do not have the opportunities to experience and enjoy the arts in a public and community space,” said Roger Ideishi, a consultant to the Orchestra and program director for Temple University’s College of Public Health Program in Occupational Therapy. “This initiative demonstrates The Philadelphia Orchestra's commitment to providing music enrichment for ALL children and families regardless of ability level.” 

Parent resources available at the relaxed sensory friendly Sound All Around performances include trained staff, ushers, musicians, and additional volunteers from Art Reach and Temple University; fidget toys and sensory stress toys; pre-visit stories available on philorch.org/sound-all-around to help children prepare for the outing; and a quiet space outside of the Ballroom with bean bag chairs and disposable earplugs. 

Sound All Around concerts fall under the Access branch of The Philadelphia Orchestra’s HEAR initiative, a portfolio of programs that promotes Health, champions music Education, eliminates barriers to Accessing the Orchestra, and maximizes impact through Research. The Sound All Around concert series is endowed in perpetuity by the Garrison Family Fund for Children’s Concerts.   



About The Philadelphia Orchestra

About HEAR 



Jay Nachman

phone: 215.893.3136

e-mail: jnachman@philorch.org

Patricia O’Kelly

phone: 202.999.9806

e-mail: pokelly@philorch.org


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