The TSO’s first Relaxed Performance
Hundreds of families enjoy special show for neurodiverse audiences
On April 27, the Orchestra welcomed patrons to our first Relaxed Performance, designed specifically for people living with autism spectrum disorders, sensory and communication disorders, learning disabilities, or anyone who wanted a more casual concert experience.
Conductor Daniel Bartholomew-Poyser shows the audience some Bhangra dance moves.
A young boy watches the relaxed performance.
Reactions from parents
- "As an advocate for all parents who have a child with challenges, having the opportunity to attend a high caliber performance without the stress and worry about our child's behaviour and judgement by others is very very important."
- "You probably did that for the kids, but most of us parents don’t have a chance to go to the theatre, opera, ballet and concerts because it’s very hard to find qualified help for our children, so today was a gift for me as well. And to share that with my daughter who was in awe for the whole time, barely breathing, was a gift that I will never forget and I don’t take it for granted the efforts that go in organizing an event of this magnitude. I am so grateful and can’t wait for the next one. Hopefully you will have multiple days, so we can attend all of them!"
- "I was so happy to be there with our son and I cried for the first two songs. I would highly highly recommend the concert to people with young children or children with disabilities."
- "It might be hard to envision for those not exposed to special needs, but just knowing that we would not be judged/shamed for behavioural issues which we can't control, and we will meet others just like us: who rarely can be in public, and would not have ever had the opportunity to have experienced a concert if not for these special arrangements. This was a life changing experience, very enjoyable for the whole family, no tension for needing to hide or stop the unusual behaviour. Thank you SO MUCH for providing this opportunity. Even if it was only once in a lifetime. It was worth it."
- "IT. WAS. PHENOMENAL. This makes me very hopeful for the future of neurodiverse population. I am glad to see the 'change'. I have no words to show the gratitude I have."
- "This show has deepened our connection to the TSO. Without a doubt, we will be life-long TSO patrons. Please host events like this again. What the TSO created was magical. The world needs more inclusive, compassion and loving spaces. Thank you for creating this one."
- "Words can truly not express how much this show meant to our family. I cried tears of joy, gratitude and relief as I looked around the venue and saw people free to be themselves. I felt so grateful to be in an inclusive, loving space where my son could be himself and no one would judge our family for not always being able to follow all the social norms/ expectations. The conductor was excellent and did a fantastic job introducing the event and helping attendees understand/prepare for various aspects of the show. The music and dance was excellent and diverse. The event was inclusive in so many ways."
On social media
We had an amazing time at @TorontoSymphony relaxed performance. From the moment we walked through the door to the final bow, it was a beautiful, inclusive, upbeat, and flawlessly executed show. Conductor Daniel Bartholomew-Poyser was incredible! Such a warm and radiant presence.
— ReelAbilitiesToronto (@ReelAbilitiesTO) April 28, 2019
I love that the TSO is doing things like this! In this world we don’t make enough accommodations for people and there’s no reason we shouldn’t. We’re all apart of this world, so let’s be better at taking care of each other. https://t.co/ehk2SA2udr
— Advergirling (@advergirling) March 13, 2019
TSO Assistant Concertmaster Etsuko Kimura chats with audience members.
Toronto Mayor John Tory talks to audience members.
In the press
- "I was absolutely thrilled when I found out that the TSO was going to have a relaxed performance for people who are neuro-atypical, such as on the autism spectrum. I had seen a few years ago that the Dallas Symphony had done such a performance, and wished as a musician in the TSO that we would jump on board and make classical music more accessible for children and adults who have difficulties in a typical concert setting." —Assistant Principal Cellist Winona Zelenka Understands The Need for Relaxed Performance Concerts, ClassicalFM
- "It was great to participate in an engaging concert that welcomed people living with autism, sensory and communication disorders, learning disabilities, and anyone who just wanted a more relaxed orchestral experience."—Mom Behind the Label
- "The TSO worked with a Relaxed Performance Consultant with a strong background in theatre to get the details right. People on the autism spectrum may have trouble sitting still for long periods of time, and need to move occasionally. Unlike the rapt nature of most classical music concerts, audience members can get up and move around as they like."—How The TSO Aims To Break Down Barriers With New Relaxed Performance Format, Ludwig van Toronto
- VIDEO: TSO Reaches Out to Neurodiverse Audiences with Special Show—CityNews
- AUDIO: Toronto Symphony Orchestra Announces New Relaxed Performance for Neurodiverse Audiences—Newstalk 1010
Thank you to our sponsors
The TSO is grateful to Ms. Doris Chan, Equitable Life of Canada, Audrey S. Hellyer Foundation, Mr. Brian Sambourne, and Mrs. Ruth Watts-Gransden for their support of the Relaxed Performance.
Give to the TSO
The Toronto Symphony Orchestra is a charitable organization that relies on the support of its vibrant community to deliver outstanding programming and music education.Donate Today
Get insider access to Toronto Symphony Orchestra news, ticket offers, community programs, and more.Sign up for Email Club