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Editorial


Front Page - Friday, July 31, 2020

Chattanooga Symphony announces 2020-21 plans




The Chattanooga Symphony & Opera won’t be playing to a full house this year. Plans for the 2020-21 season include performances with fewer musicians and smaller audiences. - Photograph provided

The Chattanooga Symphony & Opera has announced plans for its 2020-21 season, which will include performances of reduced instrumentation and audience sizes due to COVID-19.

The CSO has postponed the 2020-21 season as originally planned until the 2021-22 season. Executive Director Samantha Teter hopes the organization will be able to move most of the programs to the following season.

“We’re working with the guest artists who were scheduled to perform during our 2020-21 season to move them to new dates during the 2021-22 season. The original 2020-21 season offered a variety of fabulous programming and world-class performers, and we want to keep that as intact as possible.”

Instead, the CSO will be performing smaller concerts with fewer musicians and significantly smaller audiences.

“Depending on the severity of the pandemic at the time of each scheduled concert, we anticipate having 20 or less musicians perform and 100 or less audience members present,” Teter says. “However, we will be offering two or three performances for most programs, as well as offering several livestream and recorded opportunities for patrons to view online.”

The CSO is working with its subscribers on offering access to these live concerts. Once subscribers have been allocated to performances, there might be an opportunity for more of the public to attend, as well.

In addition, some live, free performances will be offered on a reservation basis to the public.

“It is important to us that we keep our musicians, staff and patrons safe. So, we will be instituting several safety protocols, such as mask-wearing, socially distanced seating for musicians and the audience, and open-air venues during warmer months,” says Teter.

Kayoko Dan, CSO music director, has been working on new repertoire to offer at these condensed performances.

“We’re building programs that will highlight every musician of the CSO with works with smaller instrumentations to allow social distancing onstage. While challenging, it’s an opportunity for the CSO to perform works and present musicians in new ways,” Dan says.

“I’m looking forward to exploring diverse, interesting and some new-to-me works this season, as well as ensembles such as brass quintet and percussion trio, which we rarely present. We’re also looking forward to presenting our programs to different parts of our community.”

CSO leadership has been working with Tri-State Musician’s Union, AFM Local 80, on creating a new collective bargaining agreement for the unique challenges of the 2020-21 season.

The new agreement guarantees musicians will receive 66% of the services and pay they would have received in a normal season and includes several health and safety guidelines to keep musicians safe.

“The musicians of the CSO were able to collaborate with CSO leadership to get back onstage safely this season. This won’t be a typical season, but we all found it important to modify how we do things this year in order to get live music to our community,” says Joey Demko, CSO horn player and negotiation committee chair for the AFM Local 80.

The CSO will release more details about concert dates and programming in early August.

For more information, visit www.chattanoogasymphony.org.