Two Central Illinois orchestras open their seasons—one virtually, one live before small audience

Posted on: October 7, 2020

Soloist Charles Yang performs with the Peoria Symphony Orchestra while recording the orchestra’s 2020-21 season-opening concert, which aired on public television and radio. Photo by Jeffrey Noble

“As orchestras all over the country struggle with how to start the 2020-2021 season in the midst of a pandemic, central Illinois’ two major orchestras have taken very different approaches,” writes Leslie Renken in Sunday’s (10/4) Journal Star (Peoria, IL). “The Peoria Symphony Orchestra began its season Sept. 26 by broadcasting a pre-recorded concert on public television and two public radio stations. The Heartland Festival Orchestra chose to bring back the live concert, performing its season opener on Sept. 19 to a small, socially distanced audience…. Fewer than 60 people attended the event … but it didn’t take away from the sense of joy at being back on the concert… ‘Live music has a lot to do with the energy that exists inside of the space shared by the performers and the audience,’ HFO Artistic Director and Conductor David Commanday said…, ‘Even having the audience the size that we had reintroduces that magical element.’ … Patrons could also choose to watch the event virtually…. The PSO broadcast the season’s first concert on WTVP public television and public radio stations [and] will continue to pre-record and broadcast concerts on WTVP at least until January, said PSO music director George Stelluto.”