For the first time since March, members of the Longmont Symphony Orchestra on Saturday arrived at the city museum auditorium for a rehearsal. There were only 12 of them, and the 11 string players and one keyboardist kept their masks on throughout the practice.
Conductor Elliot Moore was again interpreting phrases and moving around the stage in preparation for a show. This time, however, there won’t be a packed house waiting for a performance. Instead, the 2020 fall season will be virtual and include two local LSO performances and two nationally renowned artists.
“There are so many constraints,” Moore said during a break in rehearsal Saturday. “We would love to have an audience here. But there are just too many variables that we didn’t really feel like we could control and so we decided that this would be the best solution. I think that bringing this kind of joy and entertainment is an important part of this time in our collective experience.”
The virtual season — “(Re)Sounding! 2020 Reimagined” — begins at 4 p.m. Sunday with a live streaming performance of some famous works by J.S. Bach and Mozart from the museum stage. A small version of the LSO will perform without any wind instruments pushing music through the air, or percussionists for that matter.
Bach’s “Concerto for Two Violins” will feature Benjamin Ehrmantraut and Kina Ono, the two concertmasters for the LSO.
“It’s been a long time to go without playing with other people,” Ono said Saturday. “Playing for other people is special. It gets kind of sad to be playing by yourself in your bedroom all the time.”
Ehrmantraut added, “We’ve spent the majority of our lives training to do this kind of stuff, so not being able to do it for a long time is hard on the heart. The repertoire is particularly convenient given our circumstances. There’s a certain kind of intimacy and it also works because we haven’t played with a large ensemble in a long time so we’re starting out with something kind of smaller. But I don’t think that Bach could have foreseen a pandemic.”After the Sunday concert, the LSO will stream violinist Caroline Campbell’s live solo performance from Los Angeles at 4 p.m. Oct. 25 and pianist Nathan Lee from Seattle at 4 p.m. Nov. 15. The season concludes on Dec. 13 with another virtual show from the Longmont Museum as the LSO presents Handel’s “Messiah.” Tickets for the season are available at longmontsymphony.org.
“In the last seven months or so I was listening to a lot of music,” Moore said. “One of the pieces I was listening to were these Mozart works and I found myself listening to them so often.
“Because of all of the social distancing, because of all the ways in which we are not connected through physical distance or with masks, I started thinking about this more as a time in the past. I spoke to so many other musicians and they also found themselves listening to a tremendous amount of baroque music and classical period music. So it is something that resonates with everyone at this time.”
A few minutes into Bach’s “Double Concerto,” the pace slows down for a haunting melody.
“That second movement,” Ono said. “It’s really painful and tugs at your heartstrings and I think it’s perfect for what we’re going through right now.”