More than seven months after its last concert, the Rocky Mountain Symphony Orchestra (RMSO) will return to the stage Nov. 7 and 8 to kickstart the 2020-21 season.
Carlos Foggin, musical director of RMSO and the conductor for the upcoming concerts, said he and the rest of the orchestra are looking forward to performing together on stage for the first time since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Music heard over speakers is not what music was intended to be,” he said. "It’s like viewing the Mona Lisa on your TV or in an art book. There’s something about seeing the real thing in the environment it was meant to be seen, in a social setting.”
RMSO will perform Ludwig van Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 4 and Felix Mendelssohn’s Sinfonia No. 12. The program will also include a strings-oriented arrangement of Beethoven’s Piano Sonata No. 27. The two performances will be held at the Polaris Centre for the Performing Arts in Balzac.
Due to pandemic-related restrictions, the orchestra will not include wind or brass sections, focusing instead on strings and piano. Jeanette Lin will feature as the soloist during Beethoven's piano concerto, Foggin said.
“She’s performed this piece many times,” he said. “She was a student at the Royal Academy of Music in London, and she’s performed this in England and throughout the world.”
To comply with ongoing health and safety protocols, the audience will be capped at 65 patrons to allow for social distancing. According to Foggin, the musicians will wear masks throughout the concert, while audience members will be asked to don masks when social distancing cannot be maintained.
Tickets will be sold in cohorts of two or three, and groups will be spaced two metres apart. Ticket scanning will be done with contactless technology and there will be no walk-up concession service.
“For this concert, we won’t be offering bar service or food service, because it will be impossible to maintain,” Foggin said. “We do have some tables available that people can purchase, and those tables will be able to pre-order drinks. Those would be served to the table, so we can eliminate contact and walk-up service. There are some options to see the show and have a drink, but on a limited scale.”
Despite the restrictions, Foggin said he’s looking forward to the "risk-versus-reward" element that comes with performing in a live setting.
“There’s an inherent risk in watching something live, versus a replay or recording of it,” he said. “Anything can happen in a live concert. Beethoven’s Fourth Piano Concerto – how will [Lin] play the second movement? How fast will she want to go? In the moment, what artistic decisions will be made that can be absolutely stunning?”
RMSO formed in 2016 as a way for people in rural communities outside Calgary to experience classical music in a live setting. Since forming, RMSO has performed more than 50 concerts in 18 venues. The orchestra has been based out of the Polaris Centre since 2019.
The Nov. 7 show will begin at 7:30 p.m., while the Nov. 8 performance will be at 3 p.m. A live stream for each show will also be available at rockymountainsymphony.ca