New Albany Symphony Orchestra members are trying to welcome new audiences with their performances.
This season, in addition to four regular concerts and four sensory-friendly concerts over the next several months, small groups of NASO musicians will perform a dozen "Community Kindness Concerts," free outreach performances, said executive director Heather Garner.
The Community Kindness Concerts are "pop-up performances at places we might not normally be seen performing -- like at community events, local churches, schools and senior centers," she said.
Some of the concerts, which are designed to get "musicians out of their usual performance environment -- the stage -- and into a more informal and approachable setting," would be unscheduled "surprise" performances, she said.
The goal is to remove barriers that might prevent people from hearing live music, Garner said. It also is important to develop relationships with the senior centers that are in the area, she said.
"We decided to take our show on the road and into their community," she said.
The Community Kindness Concerts will be funded through a $35,000 grant from the PNC Foundation's Arts Alive grant, Garner said. The award is the fifth NASO received since it began applying for the grant, she said.
The grant also will support NASO's "Saturday at the Symphony" performances, sensory-friendly shows for anyone who needs a relaxed concert environment, Garner said.
The program has been popular with people on the autism spectrum, she said, and she anticipates people with dementia and Alzheimer's disease attending.
"Music's a great therapy; it's healing for a lot of people, and we just want everybody to feel like they can come and enjoy it," she said.
The sensory-friendly shows are 45 minutes, with visuals and screens showing musicians added to the performance, Garner said. Crafts and snacks are available in the lobby, and lights stay on during the show.
Talking, dancing and singing during the performance is accepted and audience members are free to come and go as they like, she said.
This is the fourth year NASO is offering sensory-friendly performances, Garner said.
The past season was the most popular yet for the program, with as many as 300 people attending performances, she said.
The four sensory-friendly shows are Oct. 6, Dec. 15, March 9 and April 27. The regular concerts are Oct. 7, Dec. 16, March 8, 9 and 10 and April 28.
The concert subject matter is similar for each Saturday-Sunday pair of dates and the shows are at the Jeanne B. McCoy Community Center for the Arts, 100 W. Dublin-Granville Road in New Albany. Tickets are available at the McCoy or through Ticketmaster.
The Community Kindness Concerts are being scheduled, Garner said, and will be posted on the NASO website, newalbanysymphony.net.
One of the performances was Sept. 9 at Wesley Woods at New Albany, she said.
Wesley Woods is a local retirement village.
Although age isn't a barrier to appreciating music, traveling can become prohibitive as people age, said Peg Carmany, CEO of Wesley Communities.
"The residents at Wesley Woods really appreciate that they are included in the New Albany Symphony's community-kindness tour," she said. "Many of them are lifelong symphony and music lovers."