What are you doing this Saturday afternoon? If you don’t already have plans, we’d love to see you at “Celebrate Pittsburgh,” our first sensory-friendly performance! For months, we’ve been looking forward to this exciting program inspired by Pittsburgh’s history, landscape, and talented residents. Everyone is welcome to come and enjoy this unique opportunity to see the PSO perform in an inclusive and relaxed environment. We hope to see you there!
The fun will start at 1:15 p.m. with our pre-concert activity hour. At this time, you can meet Fiddlesticks, our feline musical ambassador to children, or one of the PSO’s fabulous musicians. Music therapists from the Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC will facilitate a group sound exploratorium activity and give patrons the chance to make music together with a variety of percussion instruments. Occupational therapy students from Chatham University will lead creative movement activities in a kinesthetic room. If you want to make art, you can help build a neighborhood out of drawings and clay by adding to a Pittsburgh-themed collaborative diorama. You can also meet representatives from many local arts and disability service organizations at our resource fair.
At 2:30, the concert will begin with music by Strauss that is reminiscent of the trains and rivers here in Pittsburgh. Afterward, Pittsburgh native Joe Wos will show off his artistic abilities as he draws cartoons to the music! Inori Sakai, a former concertmaster of the Pittsburgh Youth Symphony Orchestra and now a student at Juilliard, will follow with the finale of the Mendelssohn Violin Concerto. Then we’ll celebrate several Pittsburgh celebrities: Henry Mancini, Gene Kelly, the Pirates, and Mr. Rogers. More gifted guest artists from the area, including vocalist Katy Williams, the Pittsburgh CLO Academy Tap Dancers, guitarist Joe Negri (Handyman Negri from Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood), PSO bassist Jeffrey Grubbs, and percussionist Tom Wendt, will join us during this portion of the program. We will conclude by asking the audience to participate in a rousing rendition of Stars and Stripes Forever that everyone can conduct from their seats!
If the activities or concert become too stimulating, you can always visit our quiet room, which will have staff ready to assist you at all times. Come here to relax with bean bags, a weighted blanket, weighted neck rolls, play mats, and coloring materials. Fidgets provided by Pirates Charities and earplugs donated by the UPMC Center for Musicians’ Hearing will also be available throughout the event, and during the performance, the house lights will be up approximately 25% to facilitate movement throughout the hall.
So how can you get ready for the performance? Luckily, we plenty of materials ready to help you do just that!
First, meet our Resident Conductor, Larry Loh, who will conduct the concert, in a series of short videos. He will introduce you to the music and guest artists, as well as one of our musicians, Associate Principal Cello David Premo. In addition, he will show you how to conduct along during the program. Once you hear the names of all the musical selections, listen to our Spotify playlist to hear what they sound like, and learn about the people who wrote them through our composer biographies. An instrument picture schedule and glossary of musical terms can help you recognize the instruments you’ll see on stage, as well as some of the vocabulary you might hear in the script.
Our pre-visit story will take you through every step of the experience of visiting Heinz Hall so you know exactly what to expect at the venue, and a tip sheet will provide you with additional information about things like parking, concessions, electronic devices, accommodations, and the relaxed rules that will be in place for this concert. Don’t forget that this is a performance where everyone is free to vocalize, sing, dance, move around, or otherwise respond to the music in his or her own way!
To buy your tickets today, call the Heinz Hall box office at 412.392.4900 or visit pittsburghsymphony.org/sensoryfriendly. We hope to see you this Saturday, June 27, at “Celebrate Pittsburgh!”