The last time all of the musicians and the conductor of the Central Ohio Symphony were on stage performing was March 1, just weeks before the pandemic shut down the musical arts across the nation and the world. Eight months later, the Symphony is looking for ways to bring more music back into the community.
Executive Director Warren W. Hyer spoke about what may be coming to make that happen.
“Since the start of this, Music Director Jaime Morales-Matos and I have been in constant contact about what is doable, what can’t be done safely, and what is needed in terms of resources to perform again,” said Hyer. “Jaime and I are very committed to bringing the orchestra’s music back, as is the (Central Ohio Symphony) Board of Trustees. We just have to figure out how to do that differently, which in this case means both safely and in a meaningful way.”
Right now, the Symphony is looking at developing remote performances, using limited venues, and at other ideas that orchestras around the U.S. have been trying. Hyer said there are local possibilities, adding that there are also challenges.
The Symphony does not own its own performance hall. Rehearsal space in the Delaware City Schools is not available until January 2021 at the earliest, and the same is true for performance space at Gray Chapel at Ohio Wesleyan. The ability to provide future quality virtual recording is also a challenge; the Symphony does not own that kind of equipment. The highly praised Benefit in the Barn concert, featuring the brass and percussion ensemble and Morales-Matos, was taped in August with no audience in one afternoon in the barn at Leeds Farm by a recording crew supplied by the Delaware County Farm Bureau.
Safety concerns are paramount for both the musicians and the audience. This summer, the Symphony surveyed its subscribers as to how comfortable they would be coming back into Gray Chapel. The majority of the responders are reluctant until there is better public control of the virus. The Symphony has over 3,000 donated masks ready for the audience and the musician’s safety when performances resume.
Hyer sketched out where the Symphony plans to go.
“We have programming planned for the season, including world premieres. We are in constant contact with the guest artists that we plan to use in 2021. We are tentatively considering some small ensemble performances yet this year if all works out,” he said.
Hyer encourages supporters and the community to stay in touch through the Symphony’s website www.centralohiosymphony.org and on its Facebook page. Phone calls are welcomed at 740-362-1799. The downtown office is open from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. weekdays; the Symphony asks that visitors wear a mask when visiting.