Experiencing the “Music of Flight and Fantasy” at Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra’s Sensory-Friendly Concert
Lucky Potterheads in Pittsburgh received a special treat courtesy of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra – a musical celebration of fantasy and magic featuring the music from Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone!
On June 17, the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra held a sensory-friendly concert at Heinz Hall to perform iconic themes from Star Wars, Swan Lake, and of course, the first Potter film. As the orchestra played Williams’ beautiful suites, namely “Harry’s Wondrous World” and “Fluffy and Harp” (who can forget that dreamy tune?), fans not only experienced a concert of pure musical fantasy but also prepared themselves for the 20th anniversary on June 26.
Don’t worry; here at MuggleNet, we still can’t believe that it has been 20 glorious years since our exposure to the wonderful wizarding world!
And we are thrilled to report that the sensory-friendly show in Pittsburgh was a major hit! Apart from the orchestra’s incredible renditions of Williams’ Potter themes, the show was highly regarded for its welcoming, inclusive, and relaxed environment for people of all ages, sensitivities, and abilities. In support, Vanessa Braun, assistant director of accessibility at the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust and Pitt alum, emphasized that such concerts strongly welcomed people on the autism spectrum.
I would say that all of the feedback that we receive from people always goes back to the fact that ‘I felt welcome when I walked in the door.’
Guest conductor and proud Gryffindor Lawrence Loh echoed this sentiment of sensory-friendly concerts as a novel yet beneficial idea.
Pittsburgh is definitely a leading city when it comes to sensory-friendly events. I’m proud of being associated with such a thoughtful and inclusive organization.
Since sensory-friendly concerts are geared toward ensuring a comfortable and inclusive environment, both Loh and Roger Ideishi, a consultant for the Flight and Fantasy concert, made clear that relaxation in the setting was paramount.
When you think about theater rules, it’s sit down, be quiet, don’t move. And you can only go in and out of the theater hall at certain points. In sensory-friendly experiences, all of those rules are relaxed — you can talk, you can move about, you can go in and out as much as you want.
Ideishi further recognized the necessity of such a setting for people with different needs in public spaces.
Individuals have different needs at different times, and with that flexibility, those needs can be met at any point during the experience.
These families often feel scrutinized and judged when they go out into the community. So [we are] creating that supportive safe space […] and communication — in verbal and in nonverbal ways — to [be able to] provide that communication to the family members.
It is heart-warming to see that diversity and inclusiveness, as reflected upon in the Potter series, is becoming more welcomed in the world. We would have loved to attend the show in Pittsburgh!
Have you ever been to a sensory-friendly concert? How did you celebrate the 20th anniversary of the first Potter book? Let us know in the comments below.