Despite the formidable challenges to live performances posed by COVID-19, the Central Ohio Symphony found a way for musicians to perform for the upcoming sixth annual Benefit in the Barn.
The event, which has gone virtual this year, is put on by the Delaware County and Union County farm bureaus to combat hunger in the two counties. In the past five years, the benefit has raised over $275,000 to distribute to the Hunger Alliance in Delaware County and the Hope Center in Union County. The orchestra has been the entertainment for each of the previous events and very much wanted to be involved this year, according to Symphony Executive Director Warren W. Hyer.
“I said ‘yes’ as soon as the committee asked us to perform and announced the “Barn” was going virtual. I knew it would take significant extra planning. No orchestra performances are happening anywhere,” said Hyer. “Our musicians haven’t played since March, and we knew we couldn’t bring them all together. But this event is important for the community, so we found a way to make it work.
“Benefit in the Barn is important for our agencies committed to fighting hunger. It is important for the Symphony to support the Barn event, because it fulfills our mission to be actively engaged with our community more than just being on the stage during our regular season,” he added.
The performance, which was videotaped and recorded with high-quality audio, will look different from past years. The ensemble is smaller than the past benefit performances; this one will feature just 14 musicians and Music Director Jaime Morales-Matos, who also performs as solo trombonist on some of the pieces. All the performers were socially distanced and wore masks when not playing. The taping was done inside the large party barn at Leeds Farm in Ostrander; the Leeds family would have been the host farm family for this year’s event had it been live.
Hyer, who did not take part in the performance, got updates throughout the taping session and heard from musicians afterwards on Facebook.
“Our musicians were thrilled to be playing together again,” he said. “Our goal was to provide a high quality, rewarding musical event for Benefit in the Barn, and I think we sailed past that goal.”
Benefit in the Barn will run online the week of Aug. 10, with the Symphony’s performance being shown on Aug. 15, the last night of the event.
A ticket donation of $35 to the Benefit in the Barn allows the purchaser to participate in the event’s week long virtual activities. The donations will be matched by sponsors and may be made through United Way of Delaware County at liveuniteddelawarecounty.org/about-us/event-detail/filter/186.
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