New Notes on the Autism Scale

While the Fall 2015 issue of Symphony magazine (the publication of the League of American Orchestras) contained a range of interesting and positive articles, one particularly caught my interest. Titled “New Notes on the Autism Scale,” it was about concerts given for people on the autism spectrum by a number of American orchestras and the special adjustments and accommodations made so those concerts could be more effective for listeners with autism.
The reason it spoke so directly to me is that my wife and I have a grown son with autism who has loved music all his life. One of our family stories is about the time he sang the Mozart Requiem with his high school choir and orchestra. We had not pushed Mozart, or any classical music, on him at all (although he does come to those concerts on which I have stand-up solos), and for various reasons he had grown up listening mostly to hip-hop and heavy metal. But he loved the Mozart. He downloaded a recording to help him learn the bass part and he sang it non-stop in the shower for weeks.
The night of the concert, we dropped my wife off at the front door of the school and went to park, during which short interval Sam asked me “Dad – did Mozart write anything else good?” I assured him that indeed he did.

About the author

Robert Levine
Robert Levine

Robert Levine has been the Principal Violist of the Milwaukee Symphony since September 1987. Before coming to Milwaukee Mr. Levine had been a member of the Orford String Quartet, Quartet-in-Residence at the University of Toronto, with whom he toured extensively throughout Canada, the United States, and South America. Prior to joining the Orford Quartet, Mr. Levine had served as Principal Violist of The Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra for six years. He has also performed with the San Francisco Symphony, the London Symphony of Canada, and the Oklahoma City Symphony, as well as serving as guest principal with the orchestras of Indianapolis and Hong Kong.

He has performed as soloist with the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra, The Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, the Oklahoma City Symphony, the London Symphony of Canada, the Midsummer Mozart Festival (San Francisco), and numerous community orchestras in Northern California and Minnesota. He has also been featured on American Public Radio's nationally broadcast show "St. Paul Sunday Morning" on several occasions.

Mr. Levine has been an active chamber musician, having performed at the Festival Rolandseck in Germany, the Grand Teton Music Festival, the Palm Beach Festival, the "Strings in the Mountains" Festival in Colorado, and numerous concerts in the Twin Cities and Milwaukee. He has also been active in the field of new music, having commissioned and premiered works for viola and orchestra from Minnesota composers Janika Vandervelde and Libby Larsen.

Mr. Levine was chairman of the International Conference of Symphony and Opera Musicians from 1996 to 2002 and currently serves as President of the Milwaukee Musicians Association, Local 8 of the American Federation of Musicians, and as a member of the Board of Directors of the League of American Orchestras. He has written extensively about issues concerning orchestra musicians for publications of ICSOM, the AFM, the Symphony Orchestra Institute, and the League of American Orchestras.

Mr. Levine attended Stanford University and the Institute for Advanced Musical Studies in Switzerland. His primary teachers were Aaron Sten and Pamela Goldsmith. He also studied with Paul Doctor, Walter Trampler, Bruno Giuranna, and David Abel.

He lives with his wife Emily and his son Sam in Glendale.

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