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Carole Mikita Reporting...A unique concert, for children who cannot always attend public performances, took place last night. The children have autism and they attend the Carmen B. Pingree School.
The concert is an opportunity for the Utah Opera's apprentice artists to perform -- and for the audience, both kids and their parents -- to have a night out.
Children with autism, who don't often go to social events or restaurants because other people find them disruptive, are invited to a special evening called “Sing and Play the Night Away” once a year.
Janette Nelson// parent of autistic children "HE LOOKS FORWARD TO IT EVERY YEAR AND I CANNOT TELL HIM UNTIL A DAY BEFORE, IF THAT... BECAUSE HE JUST SAYS 'OPERA, OPERA, OPERA..."
Operatic music has a calming effect on autistic children. It helps them focus and it also gives their parents a much-needed night out.
Since the opera and symphony have merged, the orchestra members also performed this year – a treat for both the players and the children.
Anne Ewers/ CEO Utah Symphony & Opera: " PARENTS WOULD, ONE- BY- ONE, TAKE A COUPLE OF LITTLE ONES AND THEY WOULD JUST GO TO THE CORNER AND PEER OVER THE ORCHESTRA PIT RAILING AND WATCH AND SEE WHAT WAS GOING ON WITH ALL OF THAT GLORIOUS SOUND..."
And the rules are simple: Anything goes. The children may hold their ears or applaud or keep time to the music any way they want.
Janette Nelson/parent of autistic child: "IT'S SO NEAT OF THEM TO TAKE THE TIME TO DO IT FOR OUR KIDS. 'CAUSE THEY DO APPRECIATE IT. HE'LL BE TALKING ABOUT IT FOR WEEKS."
And the kids are not the only ones. It remains a memorable evening for all.
Anne Ewers/ CEO Utah Symphony & Opera: "THESE LITTLE BUNNIES, YOU KNOW... AND THEY'RE ALL IN THEIR SEATS AND THE FAST MUSIC WOULD GO AND THEY WOULD START JUMPING AND CONDUCTING AND IT WAS JUST... AND THEN YOU SAY ' THIS IS WHAT IT'S ALL ABOUT...' "
This was the third annual autism concert. All parties are once again pleased and plan to do it again next year.