Today's News: 10/29/2020

Boston Symphony Orchestra offers streamed performances and video podcast in new “BSONOW” series

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The Boston Symphony Orchestra, observing social distancing guidelines, performs Dvořák’s “New World” Symphony at Symphony Hall, led by former Associate Conductor Ken-David Masur, October 28, 2020. Photo by Aram Boghosian

“Gearing up for a season like no other, the Boston Symphony Orchestra is hoping would-be concertgoers will migrate online for a series of newly recorded performances by the BSO and Boston Pops, as well as a novel video series with area hip-hop artists,” writes Malcolm Gay in Wednesday’s (10/28) Boston Globe. “The digital programming, dubbed BSONOW, will include 15 hourlong concerts that feature BSO musicians playing at Symphony Hall as well as prerecorded performances of the Pops playing holiday standards…. Thursday [the orchestra will release] the first installment of ‘US: Sessions,’ a [free] seven-part collaborative series between maestro Thomas Wilkins, BSO players, and Boston hip-hop artists Moe Pope and STL GLD…. The BSO will kick off its virtual programming on Nov. 19 with conductor Ken-David Masur leading a program that includes Antonín Dvořák’s Symphony No. 9 (‘From the New World’), Charles Ives’s ‘The Unanswered Question,’ and Florence Price’s String Quartet in G…. The BSO will deliver the first installment of its new video podcast, ‘US: Sessions,’ on Oct. 29…. The complete BSONOW series will be offered on a complimentary basis to 2019-20 BSO subscribers, as well as College Card holders, essential workers, and select others.”

 

October 29, 2020

Symphony of Southeast Texas returns with in-person audience: “Cirque Spooktacular”

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“For the first time this concert season, the Symphony of Southeast Texas performed its Cirque Spooktacular on Saturday in front of a live audience at the Beaumont Civic Center,” writes Jorge Ramos in Sunday’s (10/25) Beaumont Enterprise (TX; subscription required). “ ‘It’s important to be present in our community during this time,’ Chelsea Tipton II, the Symphony of Southeast Texas’ Music Director, said…. While the Cirque Spooktacular was the first concert with a live audience [this season] for the Symphony of Southeast Texas, it was not their first performance of the season. On Sept. 19 the Symphony live streamed its performance of the Cinematic Impressions. During that concert, the Symphony had to reconfigure its 70-musician orchestra to just 20 people on stage at one time.… The Cirque Spooktacular featured acrobatics, jugglers and strongmen accompanied by live music. The six acrobats … included one who played an electric violin while hanging from a trapeze…. Cirque Spooktacular did not have an intermission and … the next two concerts into January 2021 also will have no intermission and will vary from 55-70 minutes…. There will be five more concerts spread out through April, and the Symphony is expected to be back in the Julie Rogers Theatre sometime this season.”

October 29, 2020

Seattle Chamber Music Society reports positive feedback from virtual summer festival

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“As the pandemic continues and live concerts are all but impossible, classical music organizations have moved their seasons online—with widely varying paywalls and content,” writes Melinda Bargreen in Monday’s (10/26) Seattle Times. “The Seattle Chamber Music Society is releasing findings for its 2020 Virtual Summer Festival, a four-week series of 12 concerts by 41 musicians whose performances were filmed in Seattle and in remote locations. Of the 935 patrons surveyed, with a 36% response rate (25% is typical), the virtual festival rated 8.4 on a scale of 10. It brought in 389 new ticket purchasers (32% of patrons) and 92 first-time donors … and 300 more subscribers than usual—likely because there were no constraints on the size of the concert-hall space (the festival is usually held in Seattle’s 536-seat Nordstrom Recital Hall in Benaroya Hall). First-time donations came in from Canada and U.S. states from California to Massachusetts…. And 99% of respondents said they were ‘very interested’ in subscribing to the virtual Winter Festival series in January…. The concerts were new content…. ‘People took a chance, had a positive experience, and supported us financially,’ Executive Director Connie Cooper notes. ‘We’ll continue to reach out to more new folks.’ ”

October 29, 2020

Newport Symphony cellists perform Handel for animals at Oregon Coast Aquarium

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Newport Symphony Orchestra cellist Adrienne Welsh believes “every aquarium should have a resident cellist,” writes Matthew Denis writes in Friday’s (10/23) Register-Guard (Eugene, OR). “After performances by Welsh and fellow cellist Vicki Strauss, Oregon Coast otters and ‘Passages of the Deep’ aquarium creatures seem to agree. During the aquarium’s pandemic-related closure, the Newport Symphony Orchestra and the Oregon Coast Aquarium in Newport collaborated to provide a new form of enrichment for its animals: live symphonic music. Together, the nonprofit organizations filmed a music video in front of the sea otter window [featuring George Frideric] Handel’s very appropriate ‘Variations on Water Music Themes.’ … Long-time aquarium volunteer Melody Lavrakas … considered how fellow nonprofits could help each other, [which] led to proposing two symphony musicians performing for sea creatures…. When the aquarium came calling, [Welsh and Strauss were] ready…. Cello music at an aquarium is just another one of innumerable ways that cultural and entertainment venues have adapted … ‘My hope is the aquarium can use the music video as a gift to their and our patrons and to keep them aware of these great organizations,’ Lavrakas said.”

October 29, 2020

Review: Symphony Tacoma’s multi-platform virtual concerts

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“Symphony Tacoma has hit the pandemic ground running with a 2020/21 season that blends previous recordings with new video slideshows, chamber music recordings with ballet, Facebook live artist talks, and a can-do spirit,” writes Rosemary Ponnekanti  in Tuesday’s (10/27) South Sound Magazine (Tacoma, WA). “On Saturday night, a Bernstein concert from 2017 took on a whole new meaning as a reiteration of the joy, hope, and caring that can still exist in our world. In ‘Bernstein: Selections from West Side Story and more,’ conductor Sarah Ioannides showcased another of her talents—visual storytelling.… As a pure audio recording, the YouTube video left a little to be desired…. What really transformed this video, however, was the pre-concert Zoom.… The artists joined Ioannides, chorus director Geoffrey Boers, musicologist Dr. Greg Youtz and various audience members to dive into both deep discussion and happy reminiscences. It’s incredibly rare to be able to chat with a soprano or conductor right before a performance—even rarer to have the discourse turn honestly, even vulnerably, to issues like representation in opera [or] Black Lives Matter.… In a separate YouTube video, Symphony Tacoma kicked off its new Interlude Series of chamber music recordings with ‘Dances & Goddesses,’ a collaboration with Tacoma City Ballet.”

October 29, 2020

Coronavirus cases rise in Italy, forcing closure of Milan’s La Scala and Naples’ San Carlo theaters

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“The number of performers at Milan’s famed La Scala opera house who have tested positive for the coronavirus has risen to 21, even as the theater was forced to close due to new government restrictions aimed at curbing the virus’ resurgence,” writes Colleen Barry in Tuesday’s (10/27) Associated Press. “La Scala spokesman Paolo Besana confirmed Tuesday that 18 members of the world-class chorus and three woodwind players in the orchestra have the virus. That comes after two singers, including tenor Francesco Meli, tested positive, ahead of planned concert performances last week of Giuseppe Verdi’s ‘Aida.’ Italian media also reported that 12 positive cases had been reported at the San Carlo Theater in Naples, affecting management, the orchestra, chorus and dance troupe. The new peak in virus cases in Italy has been centered in Milan, Lombardy’s capital, throwing into doubt La Scala’s celebrated Dec. 7 gala season opener. La Scala had launched a limited series of concerts and ballets in September…. It had planned to resume full staging in November, but the government decree has shut down theaters through Nov. 24…. The infections underline the delicacy of staging singing performances during which voices are necessarily projected, risking the spread of contagion.”

October 29, 2020

Flint Symphony’s 2020-21 season: streams of previous concerts, then in-person concerts beginning Feb. 2021

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Michigan’s Flint Symphony Orchestra has announced that it will perform for in-person audiences beginning on February 6, 2021, with Music Director Enrique Diemecke conducting a family program featuring Stravinsky’s Pulcinella Suite and Prokofiev’s Peter and the Wolf with narrator Cathy Prevett. The 2,043-seat Whiting theater will be configured to ensure physical distancing, and reserved seats may be temporarily relocated for the 2020-21 season, to allow appropriate distancing. Additional in-person concerts are planned on February 27, March 6, April 10, May 8, and June 19. The Flint Symphony is also streaming concerts from the 2019-20 season for free, beginning on October 31, 2020 with the orchestra’s October 12, 2019 concert featuring Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 2 with Andrew von Oeyen. The orchestra’s online fundraiser, a raffle open through October 29, offers chances to win a private concert for up to six people, performed by FSO musicians led by Concertmaster Judy Lin Wu at the Flint Institute of Arts, plus a tour and champagne reception.

October 29, 2020

Today's News: 10/29/2020