Photo courtesy BRSO.

Tuning Up: BRSO sets a new stage for its 2020-2021 season

Anyone paying attention to the entertainment industry knows that when COVID-19 first began rattling this year’s plans, live music was one of the first things to go. Many of the country’s cultural centers shut down, from Broadway to the Metropolitan Opera, as did local stalwarts, including the spring season of the Baton Rouge Symphony Orchestra. But now, with phase three of the state’s reopening plan in place, BRSO is launching a new season sure to satisfy fans.

“Typically our Lamar Family Chamber Series and our Orchestral Series intertwine throughout a season,” says executive director Eric Marshall. “But since our Chamber Series pieces require fewer musicians, we’ve frontloaded those to 2020. Then in January, we’ll begin with a strings-only Orchestral Series concert and increase the amount of musicians steadily over time, if the virus allows us to eventually return to normal. We want to do everything we can to keep our musicians and patrons safe, and to keep our doors open.”

As part of its Symphony Day fundraiser, BRSO executive director Eric Marshall arranged interviews and performances with BRSO’s conductors and musicians—a virtual supplement for the real-world thrill of live music. Photos courtesy BRSO.

Due to musicians being largely unable to work in person, BRSO has spent the majority of the past months performing free “@Home” concerts on Facebook with the help of a grant from the Arts Council of Greater Baton Rouge. And whereas a major loss in revenue may have been an expected outcome of a worldwide pandemic, the stirrings of Bach, Tchaikovsky and Mozart ring with richness now more than ever. (The word “baroque,” after all, comes from the Portuguese word for “misshapen pearl”—a metaphor we can only hope might prove prophetic by the end of 2020).

This month, look out for the return of the symphony’s popular at-home wine-tasting fundraiser on October 9, followed by fan-favorite Bachtoberfest on October 16. The first half of the season continues with a string quartet performance November 12, “A Houmas Holiday” at Houmas House December 6, and Holiday Brass December 16. The new year will bring Mozart, Hollywood hits and a Beethoven finale.

“Music can take you places that other art forms can’t, and Baton Rouge is so fortunate to have this unbelievably talented, world-class orchestra,” says Marshall. “Symphonies are crucial to the cultural fabric of a city, and we hope to be part of that fabric in Baton Rouge for years to come.”