Fort Worth Symphony’s socially distanced “America Strong” farewell concert for Music Director Harth-Bedoya

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Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra musicians rehearse for the ensemble’s July 4 “America Strong” performance, which will follow Centers for Disease Control and Prevention COVID-19 guidelines. Photo courtesy of Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra

“The Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra is presenting the ‘America Strong’ concert this Fourth of July at Dickies Arena—its first concert in more than three months,” writes Bryan Mena in Tuesday’s (6/30) Fort Worth Star-Telegram (TX). “But because of the pandemic, this concert is expected to look quite different. ‘We’re going to have the singers physically separate from the conductor, the dancers in a different part of Dickies [Arena], plastic shields around the woodwinds and brass players…. Conductor conducting in a mask,’ said Keith Cerny, president and CEO of the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra…. There also isn’t going to be an audience at this concert…. People can catch the hour-long performance on WFAA-TV/Channel 8, at 9 p.m. on July 4. A recording of the concert will be available on GWSO’s website for two weeks following the event. The … concert is going to feature guest artists from the Fort Worth Opera, The Cliburn, and Texas Ballet Theater…. The performance will feature works by Black composers, including William Christopher (W.C.) Handy, Scott Joplin and James Weldon Johnson.… ‘America Strong’ will be Miguel Harth-Beyoda’s final concert with the FWSO, concluding a 20-year run as music director.”

June 30, 2020

St. Louis Symphony musicians’ outdoor concerts, organized by orchestra’s associate principal horn

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“I hadn’t realized just how starved I was for live music until the concert began,” writes Sarah Bryan Miller in Friday’s (6/26) St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “The venue was a suburban driveway…. The audience … sat on chairs or blankets, scattered at socially safe distances. Most of the musicians were members of the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra…. All are volunteers…. They didn’t have quite the instruments called for by the composers, so others filled in: SLSO second trumpet Michael Walk took the second oboe part, using a mute throughout, while principal tuba Derek Fenstermacher impersonated a bassoonist. And it was all quite wonderful. The program was preceded by a promising young violinist, Klaus Jöstlein, the 13-year-old son of associate principal horn (and front-yard concert organizer extraordinaire) Thomas Jöstlein. Next came Charles Gounod’s 1885 Petite Symphonie in B-Flat major, for nine players … followed by the Serenade No. 11 in E-Flat major, by W.A. Mozart…. Jöstlein … has organized or taken part in almost 100 concerts in different areas…. Instrumentalists, he noted, ‘have to play to stay good.’ … I will remember [these concerts] as something akin to answered prayer…. They are a gift of infinite value.”

June 30, 2020

Vermont Symphony names Cape Town Opera’s Elise Brunelle as executive director

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“The Vermont Symphony Orchestra has named the managing director of an opera company in South Africa as its new executive director,” reads an unsigned Sunday (6/28) Associated Press article. “Elise Brunelle takes over for Ben Cadwallader, who stepped down in February to [become executive director of] the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra…. The Burlington-based orchestra said … she’s expected to start sometime in mid-August or early September. Barbara Wessel, who chairs the orchestra’s board, said Brunelle is a proven manager with a strong background in fundraising and financial management. She spent 16 years with the Cape Town Opera, which is South Africa’s largest nonprofit performing arts organization, serving as fundraiser and financial manager before becoming managing director…. Under Brunelle, the Cape Town opera expanded its international touring, expanded its youth and education programs, and stabilized its finances. Brunelle said she’s honored for the opportunity to lead the orchestra, which is also searching for a successor to longtime musical director Jaime Laredo, who is departing after 20 years.” Said Brunelle, “More than anything, I want to talk with people in Vermont’s communities to find out what they would like to see from their VSO.’ ”

June 30, 2020

In NYC, all Broadway theaters to remain shuttered through the end of the year

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“Broadway will remain closed for at least the rest of this year, and many shows are signaling that they do not expect a return to the stage until late winter or early spring,” writes Michael Paulson in Monday’s (6/29) New York Times. There are 41 professional theaters in the Broadway district, and shows from Broadway comprise the majority of touring productions nationwide. “The Broadway League said Monday that theater owners and producers will refund or exchange tickets previously purchased for shows through Jan. 3. Given the unpredictability of the coronavirus pandemic that has prompted the shuttering of Broadway, the League said it was not yet ready to specify exactly when shows will reopen. ‘Returning productions are currently projected to resume performances over a series of rolling dates in early 2021,’ the League said in a statement. Among the logistical issues industry leaders are discussing with government and medical officials: ‘screening and testing, cleaning and sanitizing, wayfinding inside theaters, backstage protocols and much more.’… the rising levels of coronavirus cases in some parts of the country reinforced the industry’s cautious approach…. Broadway shows went dark on March 12, and already this has been the longest shutdown in history.”

June 30, 2020

Pacific Symphony’s “Ellis Island” performance on public television, July 3

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The Pacific Symphony’s 2017 performance of Peter Boyer’s Ellis Island: The Dream of America will be broadcast on PBS on July 3 at 9 p.m. PT. Music Director Carl St.Clair leads Boyer’s work, which celebrates the American immigrant experience. Using texts from the Ellis Island Oral History Project and historic Ellis Island images in combination with Boyer’s original orchestral score, Ellis Island features seven first-hand stories of immigrants interpreted by Barry Bostwick, Camryn Manheim, Michael Nouri, Lesley Fera, Lucas Near-Verbrugghe, Samantha Sloyan and Kira Sternbach. The program was recorded by PBS Great Performances at the Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall in 2017 during Pacific Symphony’s 17th American Composers Festival, with an audience that included nearly 40 recipients of the Ellis Island Medal of Honor. Ellis Island: The Dream of America has received nearly 200 performances by more than 80 orchestras since its premiere in 2002.

June 30, 2020

Elgin Youth Symphony artistic director adds new title: education conductor at Elgin Symphony Orchestra

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The Elgin Symphony Orchestra in Illinois has named MATTHEW SHEPPARD as education conductor. Sheppard is currently artistic director of the Elgin Youth Symphony Orchestra, a role he will retain. At the Elgin Symphony, Sheppard will lead education efforts, manage the Ainsworth Concerts for Youth, and work with the ESO education committee to develop materials for educators. He will also coordinate music-education engagement efforts and some repertoire selections by the ESO and EYSO. Sheppard serves as music director of the University of Chicago Chamber Orchestra, the Gilbert and Sullivan Opera Company of Chicago, and the Hyde Park Youth Symphony. He has conducted orchestras in North and South America, including the Orquesta Sinfónica Nacional del Paraguay, Champaign Urbana Symphony Orchestra, and Lake Geneva Symphony. He leads master classes on playing and conducting in Chicago and abroad. Sheppard attended Penn State University and earned bachelor’s degrees in liberal arts, music education, and music performance as well as a master’s degree in orchestral conducting.

June 30, 2020

Dallas Symphony Association names Cece Smith as board chair elect

Who's In

CECE SMITH has been appointed chairman of the Dallas Symphony Association, effective in fall 2021. Smith has served on the DSA Executive Board and Board of Governors since 2004, most recently as president of the Dallas Symphony Foundation and secretary of the DSA. Smith and her husband, Ford Lacy, recently named the Principal Trombone Chair. Smith will succeed Sanjiv Yajnik who has led the board as chairman since 2017. Smith is the retired co-founder and managing general partner of Phillips-Smith-Machens Venture Partners of Dallas, a group of venture capital funds. Prior to that, Smith was executive vice president for finance and administration of Pearle Health Services. Smith has been a director of many retailers; served as a director and as chairman of the board of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas; and co-founded the President’s Research Council at UTSW Medical Center. She is a graduate of the University of Michigan.

June 30, 2020

Bakersfield Symphony musicians’ July 4th band concert to be broadcast and streamed on multiple platforms

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“The Bakersfield Municipal Band, commonly referred to as the ‘Beale Park Band,’ will perform a Fourth of July concert that will be streamed on multiple social media pages and broadcast on Kern Government Television,” reads an unsigned Friday (6/26) article at KGET TV (Bakersfield, CA). “The Bakersfield Symphony Orchestra said the band, which is made up of BSO musicians, will perform from 6:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. and the concert will be broadcast on the following platforms: Beale Park Band Facebook page; Bakersfield Symphony Orchestra Facebook page; Bakersfield Symphony Orchestra YouTube channel; City of Bakersfield Facebook page; City of Bakersfield YouTube channel; and City of Bakersfield Recreation and Parks Facebook page.” The article lists the multiple local outlets that will broadcast the concert.

June 30, 2020