The community primarily served by the Georgia Symphony Orchestra is highly diverse. This diversity is highly valued and as a result, over the past few years, the Georgia Symphony Orchestra has worked to ensure that all programs and events are accessible and welcoming for all. At a GSO Holiday Pops performance, a family attended the concert with their twin sons and guide dog. The sons suffer from profound autism, and rarely have an opportunity to experience live music. They were mesmerized by the concert, and both the young boys and their parents were able to experience the joy and peace that great live music can provide. The mother of these boys later came to express her deepest gratitude to the GSO for providing this profoundly impactful experience for her family.
As a result of these conversations, the Georgia Symphony Orchestra began a collaboration with Autism Speaks to present the first GSO Sensory Friendly Concert in March, 2016. This distinct collaboration has already impacted the overall GSO scope, as it continues to redefine and broaden the definition of services to the community by a symphony orchestral program. The decision was made to make this concert an annual event, and the third GSO Sensory Friendly Concert was presented in March, 2018.
An excerpt from an audience attendee at this concert reads:
“The gift you have given to her, to us, in providing a non-traditional concert hall where she was not only the norm, but was the reason those musical pieces were given life that day… I can’t fully express how huge my heart felt that day, and feels when I think about that day—like it has been fed and watered enough love and goodness to last a very long time….at least until next year’s concert.
Lauren’s dad and I attended the symphony before we had children, but haven’t attended together since. We also haven’t been on a date in perhaps two years for lack of a caregiver for Lauren. During the March 4th concert, while sitting on either side of Lauren, each holding her hand or touching her arm for support throughout, we also occasionally touched each other’s hand behind her back and made eye contact which spoke the world, because we were both “silently” experiencing the same miracle-like realization of a dream in a room full of music.
Thank you again for the music and education you all provide. Thank you also for the hearts that go into the “smaller house” of the Sensory Friendly concert. I’ve experienced many musical performances in my life, but this one was the most valuable to my life, and is the most cherished.”