Found Sounds – Adaptive Concerts

Thalea String Quartet


“To watch the faces of the students as they entered is something I’ll never forget. The next 40 minutes was nothing short of magical.” 

“Found Sounds” is inspired by the sounds of the world around us. Join the Thalea String Quartet on a musical journey across America, through busy cities, across vast plains, and even through a dragon’s cave! This program includes a wide range of musical styles and interactive activities, offering a variety of sensory engagement levels. Over the course of this 60-minute concert, audience members will be invited to move, engage, and participate in collaborative music-making, all within the context of a safe, supportive, and open concert experience. 

“Found Sounds” features seven short works for string quartet and electronics by seven young neurodivergent artists. These pieces were composed in collaboration with Xenia Concerts and sound.colLAB, a unique co-creation project that celebrates neurodiversity through music. 


J.S. Bach - Three Chorales
Antonin Dvorák - String Quartet in F major “American”: iii. Molto Vivace
The Beatles (arr. Alex Vittal) - Abbey Road Suite: ii. Sun King
Gabriella Smith - Carrot Revolution

-stretch break with improvised musical accompaniment- 

Seven Miniatures
Rory Berk - Fire Truck Talk 
Thomas Sinclair - for Fiesta
Maddux Ma - Missed Connections
Nathan Neutel - Through the Dragon’s Cave
Laura Lapeare - Isaiah’s Birthday
Anthony Hodgetts - CAPTCHA Woes
Jamie Petit - Work Soundscapes 
Daniel Bernard Roumain - Klap Ur Handz


Since its founding, the Thalea String Quartet has been committed to fostering inclusion and accessibility in all of its performance, education, and community engagement activities. Over the past decade, Thalea has collaborated with community organizations across North America to develop adaptive and sensory-friendly programming for young people and families from the disability and neurodiversity communities. The members of the quartet have received hands-on artist training from leading disability advocates, including pianist Stephen Prutsman (Azure Series), Rory McLeod (Xenia Concerts), Erin Parkes (Lotus Centre for Special Music Education), and violist Maria Lambros (Our Joyful Noise Baltimore, Peabody Conservatory). 

In the 22/23 season, the Thalea String Quartet presented adaptive concerts in partnership with Xenia Concerts (Toronto), Calgary Pro Musica (Calgary), and Azure Concerts (Baltimore). In April 2018, Thalea launched a string program to provide opportunities for music education to individuals with autism of all functionalities. Thalea worked with pianist Steven Prutsman and Autism Fun Bay Area to create a unique curriculum where children and adults with autism learned violin, viola or cello together with their caregivers. 

Adaptive concerts welcome all forms of expressions. Concerts typically last 45-60 minutes and feature short or abridged musical selections, interactive activities, and frequent stretch and movement breaks. Audience members ideally have access to fidget toys and an area where listeners can take a break from the concert environment if desired. The Thalea String Quartet is available for consultation in creating a concert environment that is welcoming to all. 

Current programming includes specially curated programs for neurodiverse audiences and adapted versions of the quartet’s regular program offerings. The quartet’s most recent adaptive concert, outlined above, features seven short works by young composers from the neurodiverse communities alongside music by Antonín Dvórak, Daniel Bernard Roumain, and the Beatles. 


The quartet arrived and were fantastic to work with. They immediately put everyone at ease, were happy and compassionate to the situation and very professional.  After a short briefing they began to play so that the music would already be occurring when the students entered.  To watch the faces of the students as they entered is something I’ll never forget. The next 40 minutes was nothing short of magical.

Staff were able to share stories of each student with me, and how remarkable this moment was for them – seeing typically violent or disregulated students sit peacefully, students lying down and intently listening, students who normally can’t sit for more than a couple minutes, sitting and rocking to the music. One student even “leaned in” to their teacher, which had never happened.  Staff were able to give some distance to their students, not needing to sit or hold them, which is typically impossible.  The smiles and wonder on the faces of the students and the staff was incredibly touching, and I must try to pass on their gratitude and spirit of the power of music.  

 These students normally can’t cope with being in groups, due to sensory overload and other challenges, but on this day – they were coexisting and sharing smiles without any concerns. Amazing.

The principal said to me “ What we are seeing is miraculous – I’ve never seen anything like it for these kids”.

 It was truly emotional and special.  When students needed to express themselves, either physically or verbally, the quartet was accepting and did not allow it to startle or affect their performance.  And they played so beautifully.

Staff were taking video and pictures for parents who have perhaps never seen their child in this way…It was perfect, and something those families and staff, including myself will cherish.

- Chris Herard (Calgary Catholic School Board)

It makes my heart sing and another HUGE thank you to the Thalea quartet for sharing your music and yourselves with these children.  You make the world a better place.

- Samantha Whelans Kotkas (Education Coordinator, Calgary Pro Musica)

I can’t thank you enough for your wonderful Azure concert last Sunday. Your absolutely beautiful quartet playing combined with your huge generosity of spirit was such a gift to our Azure audience!!! The program was just the perfect combination of soothing and fun. THANK YOU SO MUCH for sharing your exquisite gifts with these beautiful families.

- Maria Lambros (Our Joyful Noise Baltimore)


Photo Credit: Nicola Betts