Minnesota Orchestra announced a new sensory-friendly concert series for its 2017-18 season. (Photo by Courtney Perry)

In recent years, Twin Cities arts organizations took the first steps to welcoming patrons on the autism spectrum. First came sensory-friendly performances at Stages Theatre, Children’s Theatre Company and even Orpheum Theatre for a touring Broadway show.

Now Minnesota Orchestra has announced a similar initiative, designed especially for those with autism and other sensory sensitivities.

The orchestra will host a new Sensory-Friendly Concerts series for its 2017-18 season, featuring three small recitals in the Target Atrium plus a full orchestra concert (July 14) led by assistant conductor Akiko Fujimoto. 

Bangs and crashes will be eliminated for these concerts. There will be no extremes in darkness or brightness, either. Additional accommodations include fidget spinners, noise-canceling headphones, ear plugs and quiet spaces where families can retreat.

Minnesota is not the first American orchestra to offer sensory-friendly concerts. “I’d say that we are on the early side of a growing trend,” said communications director Gwen Pappas. Philadelphia Orchestra recently performed its first sensory-friendly concert, for example.

Local music therapists, educators and Minnesota Orchestra musicians helped shape Minnesota's new program, explained orchestra community engagement manager Jessi Ryan. “We collaborated closely with community advisors to design an environment where audiences are encouraged to relax and be themselves.”

Small ensemble concerts: 11 a.m. Dec. 9, Feb. 13 and April 14, Target Atrium, Orchestra Hall. Admission is free, but reservations are required.

Courage and Triumph,” a full sensory-friendly orchestra concert featuring music by Copland, Bernstein, Stravinsky and others. 2 p.m. July 14, $12, 612-371-5656 or minnesotaorchestra.org

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