NICEVILLE — Northwest Florida Symphony Orchestra has something special up its sleeve this year.
The season-opening weekend will include a sensory-friendly performance of NFSO’s opening night "Take Flight" concert. This performance at 10 a.m. Sept. 28 will serve audience members of all ages.
A sensory-friendly concert will reach members of the community who otherwise might not be exposed to the orchestra because of sensory sensitivity associated with sound and social environment.
“We are the only arts center in the Panhandle area offering sensory-friendly orchestra events,” said Jeanette Shires, director of Mattie Kelly Arts Center. “The fact that we are able to host these events is a testament to the dedication of our orchestra and our donors to bring the arts to everyone.”
In order to accommodate individuals with sensory sensitivity, the NFSO will play the concert at half-volume and will keep the lights on so the audience is not sitting in the dark. Manipulatives, such as fidget toys, will be available along with other surprises in the lobby before the concert. Audience members can also bring pillows, blankets, toys or any support objects that make them feel comfortable to enjoy a live concert.
The concert, which will feature space-themed music such as "Star Wars" and "The Planets," will be led by guest conductor Kellen Gray from Charleston, South Carolina.
The sensory-friendly concert was made possible by three anonymous donors who collectively contributed $10,000 to pay for the production. Community member Jennifer Boxen is facilitating the concert by offering special activities in the lobby before the concert where participants can make their own goody bags.
“One of the College’s strategic goals is to promote cultural activities that enhance the quality of place,” said Dr. Devin Stephenson, NWFSC president. “The arts are such an important part of a thriving community, and I am proud that the Mattie Kelly Arts Center can accommodate such diverse audiences with the gift of music.”
The "Take Flight" sensory-friendly concert is free to the public, but donations will be accepted for the future purchases of noise-canceling headphones.
The regular concert performance will take place at 7:30 p.m. Sept. 28. Tickets are $25 for adults and $16 for youth. Call 729-6000 or visit www.MattieKellyArtsCenter.org.