COVID-19 Update Atlanta Symphony Orchestra
COVID-19 Update from Atlanta Symphony Orchestra’s Executive Director Jennifer Barlament.
“Upon learning of the 2019 novel coronavirus, the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra closely followed the information and guidelines issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Fulton County Board of Health, the City of Atlanta, and state leadership,” says Jennifer Barlament, executive director of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra.
On March 12, 2020, the ASO announced postponements and cancellations of upcoming performances. The next day, Atlanta’s signature symphony orchestra officially closed its doors to the public.
“With upcoming performances on the shelf for the foreseeable future, we launched the ASO’s ‘Virtual Stage,’ our online platform dedicated to bringing the music of the ASO plus additional exclusive content into the homes of current and new patrons worldwide,” Barlament says.
Virtual Stage includes weekly videos introducing a new ASO musician along with streams of previous concerts, archival video premieres, interactive live streams of “watch parties,” and discussions hosted by an ASO musician or representative. Five months and counting after its launch, the Virtual Stage has received hundreds of thousands of views from around the globe.
At the end of March, the ASO announced its 2020-21 season, which celebrates two major milestones: the 50th anniversary of the famed ASO Chorus and the final season of Robert Spano’s 20-year run as the orchestra’s music director. The season begins with a gala concert on September 12 featuring Spano conducting Leonard Bernstein’s Symphonic Dances from West Side Story and guest pianist Daniil Trifonov performing Rachmaninov’s Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini.
For the official season opener on September 24, Spano steps to the podium to lead renowned violinist Gil Shaham in a program of Theofanidis (Rainbow Body), Korngold (Violin Concerto), and Sibelius (Symphony No. 2). For the next nine months, the ASO calendar is replete with world premieres, guest musicians, and an eclectic array of symphonic and choral works worthy of the group legacy and individual achievement it honors.
In the downloadable ASO brochure, Spano highlights a few his favorite events, including celebrating the 50th anniversary of the ASO Chorus with Mendelssohn’s Elijah and a new oratorio by Jonathan Leshnoff; an evening of music by Franz Liszt with French pianist Jean-Yves Thibaudet; showcasing internationally renowned artists, such as Yo-Yo Ma, Yefim Bronfman, Pedja Mužijević, and Garrick Ohlsson; and spotlighting Atlanta composers Jennifer Higdon, Michael Gandolfi, Krists Auznieks, and ASO bassist Michael Kurth. The ASO season concludes June 10-12, 2021 with Spano conducting Mahler’s Third Symphony.
Of course, everything hinges on the evolving state of the coronavirus and the issuance of state and local guidelines. Whether or how the contagion will impact the ASO’s plans for ’20-21 remains to be seen.
“We are still working on the safest path forward and continue to be committed to the health and safety of our patrons, musicians, and staff,” Barlament says. “Given these unprecedented times and ever-changing conditions, each day we take new steps in our journey to return to the stage with guidance from the CDC, federal, state, and local authorities, as well as a team of independent experts, who are helping the ASO work through our specific needs and challenges. We plan to have something set in stone in early August.”