08/14/2020

Atlanta Symphony to begin fall 2020 season with seven virtual concerts

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The Atlanta Symphony Orchestra and Music Director Robert Spano in a previous performance at Woodruff Arts Center. Photo credit: Raftermen Photography

“Forced to reinterpret its 2020-2021 season due to the spread of COVID-19 in Georgia, the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra will launch a scaled-back series of seven virtual concerts on September 26,” writes Jon Ross in Wednesday’s (8/12) Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “A socially distanced orchestra of no more than 50 musicians … will perform from the Symphony Hall stage. Masked string players will play … to an empty venue, with woodwind and brass players buffeted by plexiglass barriers. High-definition robotic cameras will record each performance. Season subscribers and patrons can then access the shows through the ASO Virtual Stage platform. Plans for single-view tickets are still in the works. The initial [plans for the] 2020-2021 season celebrated departing music director Robert Spano…. Spano will now stick around well into 2022 to conduct many of the originally programmed large-scale works…. Group singing is now a high-risk activity, and all fall choral performances have been canceled. ‘Our priority really was to try to get the orchestra back together playing again … in a way that makes the most sense and is safest for everyone,’ said ASO Executive Director Jennifer Barlament…. ‘We’re calling this our first phase of reimagining the fall. There’s more to come.’ ”

August 14, 2020

Pennsylvania’s Westmoreland Symphony to stream fall 2020 season

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“The Westmoreland Symphony Orchestra will return to the stage of the Palace Theatre for its 2020-2021 season, with one significant difference from past years,” writes Shirley McMarlin in Wednesday’s (8/12) Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. “Patrons will be viewing concerts in their homes via livestream presented in partnership with the Westmoreland Cultural Trust…. The season will open Oct. 14 with ‘Back to Bach,’ featuring flutist Lorna McGhee. The season finale on May 1 features the return of WSO audience favorite, the teen piano virtuoso Maxim Lando….. Other dates in the symphony season include the holiday season favorite, ‘Home for the Holidays.’ … ‘It will be so poignant to craft a program for ‘Home for the Holidays’ that people can share as they gather together in their home’ … Artistic Director Daniel Meyer says. ‘We won’t be able to have the (All-Star Choir of Westmoreland County) with us, but we’ll have a sing-along that the audience can enjoy from the comfort of their homes.’ ” Says Executive Director Endy Reindl, “Considering where the coronavirus is right now, livestream is probably our safest bet…. We’ll certainly continue to assess the situation to see if (having an audience) will be feasible for the second half of the season.’ ”

August 14, 2020

Grand Rapids Symphony’s “Sidewalk Serenades,” private driveway performances

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“Although music venues are closed due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, you don’t have to miss out on the joy of live music this August,” writes Jada Fisher in Tuesday’s (8/11) MLive.com (Michigan). “The Grand Rapids Symphony is shaking things up with its new ‘Sidewalk Serenades.’ For $300, musicians will perform in your driveway on a summer evening. The concerts include 30 minutes of classical music for you and up to nine guests. ‘Enjoy a cozy concert just for you, in an intimate gathering of family and friends, as West Michigan’s finest musicians perform for you in the privacy of your own driveway,’ according to a symphony press release. This live musical experience will be available at either 6:30 p.m. or 8 p.m. Thursday through Saturday, Aug. 20-22 and Aug. 27-29. Masks are required upon arrival and throughout the performances and social distancing should be observed. No food or drink is allowed when musicians are present.”

August 14, 2020

Indiana teen, a flutist and aspiring conductor, launches chamber ensemble

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“Music always has moved Carlos Lopez,” writes Brian Blair in Monday’s (8/10) Republic (Columbus, Indiana). “At only 3-years old … at a symphony concert in Ecuador, where he was raised, the toddler [imitated] the conductor during performances…. Lopez, now 15 and a Columbus resident since last summer, still loves music. Except his dreams have grown up with him…. The home-schooled sophomore-to-be now is a flutist and is conducting an eight-member chamber orchestra—fittingly known as Octo Carmonia, Latin meaning harmony of eight—that he began organizing in the fall…. He’s picked up tips from Josh Aerie, music director of the mostly volunteer Columbus Symphony Orchestra, in which Lopez plays flute…. The ensemble started rehearsing in November with … Jessica Kim, violin; Joana Kim, violin; Miyu Fujiwara, clarinet; Yuki Yamanaka, trumpet; Youki Murabayashi, piano; Kotaro Kaneda, trombone; and Nao Miura, euphonium. He hopes to recruit many more students to the group…. They met on Zoom during the statewide quarantine period. They since have returned to in-person rehearsals.… Lopez continues to dream of future studies at the Indiana University, where he is a member of the Flute Academy at Jacobs School of Music. And he continues to dream of conducting.”

August 14, 2020

Pittsburgh Symphony partners with local arts groups on #MaskUp video

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“The Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra (PSO) has partnered with 13 Pittsburgh arts and culture organizations to encourage the use of masks in a new video, #MaskUp,” writes Jordan Snowden in Monday’s (8/10) Pittsburgh City Paper. “The video, released August 5, comes as a response to public health recommendations to wear masks in public to reduce the spread of COVID-19…. The short 30-second video features ‘Praeludium’ from Edvard Grieg’s Holberg Suite, Opus 40 and shows members of the local arts community rocking masks as they dance, play music, explore museums, and more. It was produced by the PSO and the music comes from its recent digital concert captured at Hartwood Acres as part of the Allegheny County Summer Concert series…. The organizations that came together for the video include the Carnegie Museum of Art, Carnegie Museum of Natural History, Carnegie Science Center, City Theatre, The Frick Pittsburgh, Sen. John Heinz History Center and Western Pennsylvania Sports Museum, Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre, Pittsburgh CLO, Pittsburgh Glass Center, Pittsburgh Opera, Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, STAYCEE PEARL dance project, The Andy Warhol Museum, and WQED Multimedia.” Pittsburgh Symphony President and CEO Melia Tourangeau said, “We hope that this video message will provide some inspiration to the community to keep facing this pandemic together.”

August 14, 2020

Lowell Philharmonic’s musical tribute to local first responders

Industry Buzz

The Lowell Philharmonic in Massachusetts has released a musical tribute video honoring workers at Lowell General Hospital and other area first responders and essential workers. The 45-minute YouTube video—entitled “More Than Self”—features a virtual performance by the entire LPO from their homes, as well as a chamber ensemble performance by nine string musicians, recorded live following COVID protocols. Also featured in the video are Illumination Opera of Westford; soprano Catherine Psarakis; University of Massachusetts Lowell piano faculty member Jacob Hiser; and pianist Maxine Park, the orchestra’s Concerto Competition winner, performing “The Star-Spangled Banner.” Lowell Mayor John Leahy, Lowell City Manager Eileen Donoghue, and U.S. Congresswoman Lori Trahan are among community leaders offering spoken tributes to nurses, doctors, and staff at Lowell General Hospital in the video. Music Director Thomas Kociela describes the video as “a community event that has helped to bring Lowell closer together during a very tough time.” The video aired on Lowell local television station Channel 8 on July 19.

August 14, 2020

Online “Race and Gender in Music Criticism” panel, Aug. 15

Industry Buzz

A panel discussion entitled “Race and Gender in Music Criticism” will take place at the International Florence Price Festival’s Facebook page on August 15 at 2 p.m. ET. The panel will bring together women and people of color—Natasha Gauthier, James Bennett, Anne Midgette, Jordannah Elizabeth-Writing, and A.Z. Madonna—who are working as music critics for a conversation about gender and racial diversity in the field. Topics will include the challenges and importance of presenting a broader range of critical voices, experiences, and opinions in media; the impact of race and gender on both the observer and the observed during a reviewed performance; how the #MeToo movement has been covered by the classical music press; and solutions for cultivating a more inclusive and representational criticism-performance ecosystem. The panel will also include perspectives from outside classical music. For more information visit https://www.pricefest.org/events/2020/8/11/race-and-gender-in-music-criticism.

August 14, 2020

Eighteen U.S. orchestras receive grants from the League’s American Orchestras’ Futures Fund to advance innovation

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Eighteen orchestras and youth orchestras have received grants of $30,000 each to spark a culture of innovation and learning in U.S. orchestras. Created by the League of American Orchestras to support forward-thinking and experimental projects, the American Orchestras’ Futures Fund grants, made possible by the generous support of the Ann and Gordon Getty Foundation, focus on artistic vibrancy, civic engagement, and organizational vitality. Reflecting new ways of thinking and flexibility during this time of tremendous challenge and uncertainty, the programs’ areas of focus vary greatly. Projects include a commissioning program for composers of color in Maryland aiming to diversify the pool of composers who write for youth orchestras; a travelling music float in Kentucky permitting residents to social-distance while enjoying music; an alternative medical program in Georgia utilizing mindfulness-based music therapy; and an after-school music and social program for students in El Paso, near the Texas-Mexico border. This is the fourth round of the League’s $6 million Futures Fund program; smaller-budget U.S.-based orchestras and youth orchestras that are members of the League were eligible to apply in this round. Learn more at https://americanorchestrass.org/learning-leadership-development/American-orchestras-futures-fund.html.

August 14, 2020

New study: financial success for arts groups begins with artistic excellence and cultural relevance

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How do successful performing arts organizations achieve financial health? How can a struggling organization turn its fortunes around? The Wallace Foundation, in partnership with SMU DataArts, has released a new report, The Alchemy of High-Performing Arts Organizations, that identifies common strategies utilized by twenty arts groups to achieve organizational health. The paper is co-authored by SMU DataArts Director Zannie Voss and Research Director Glenn Voss and is the first of several reports that will expand the Wallace Foundation’s resources for the field. While the report’s findings reflect pre-pandemic conditions, the authors believe that the data it presents could help inform organizations’ future efforts and serve as a productive starting point. Learn more and read the full report here.

On July 29, the League of American Orchestras presented In It for the Long Haul: From Reimagining to Financial Sustainability, a webinar based on the new report. In the webinar, Jill Robinson, CEO of TRG Arts, and Zannie Voss, Director of SMU DataArts, share specific steps that orchestras can take to emerge from the current crisis and orient toward sustained action and resiliency. League members can watch the webinar free of change on demand; non-members can watch for $35. Register to watch the webinar here.

August 14, 2020

08/14/2020