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Abilene Philharmonic revamps 2021 portion of season, moves to First Baptist

The Abilene Reporter-News logo The Abilene Reporter-News 10/21/2020 Greg Jaklewicz, Abilene Reporter-News
The 2020-21 Abilene Philharmonic season resumes Dec. 5 with two performances of a holiday program titled "A Christmas Collage" © Provided image The 2020-21 Abilene Philharmonic season resumes Dec. 5 with two performances of a holiday program titled "A Christmas Collage"

The Abilene Philharmonic continues to alter its 2020-21 season, which began with a concert by a female singer backed by a combo at the Abilene Zoo, not in its longtime concert hall.

The Philharmonic on Tuesday afternoon announced it was canceling the previously announced 2021 portion of its what has become a memorable 70th anniversary season.

The new season is called the 2020-21 Reimagined Concert Season.

It will offer four concerts, all at First Baptist Church downtown. Each will have a 3 p.m. matinee and a 7:30 p.m. performance to maximize the audience without crowding concert-goers into the sanctuary.

There also will be a livestream option for classical music fans for the 7:30 p.m. performances.

“While this is not how we expected to celebrate the 70th anniversary of our beloved orchestra, we are excited about what this new season has to offer,” said Kevin Smith, the Philharmonic's executive director. “Maestro (David) Itkin did a tremendous job reprogramming the season to include both well known pieces as well as rarer, more intriguing works.”

The season resumes Dec. 5 with "Christmas Collage" as the Phil's annual holiday show. Seventeen musicians will perform along with vocalist Sara Kennedy. She will make her Abilene debut, with Itkin accompanying on piano.

The other concerts are:

  • Jan. 30: An all strings performance titled "Romantic Strings"
  • March 27: The "Triple Concerto" concert, similar to one that had been planned for the fall to celebrate the 250th anniversary of the birth of Beethoven. There will be a guest violinist, cellist and pianist.
  • April 17: A performance by violinist Angelo Xiang Yu, who was the guest artist for the season-opening "A New World" concert. The new concert is titled "Four Seasons" and features Vivaldi's "Four Seasons."

     

The first two concerts scheduled for the fall half of the current season were to feature Yu, followed by a performance titled "Triple Concerto: Celebrating Beethoven at 250."

The orchestra, which generally numbers about 70, will be less than half the size, executive director Kevin Smith said.

The orchestra and other local groups have performed previously at First Baptist Church sanctuary. Seating there is more conducive to social distancing.

"We could have followed suit with other Texas orchestras and only performed virtual concerts, but live music is essential to our mission and this decision gives us the best opportunity to accomplish that,"" said Philharmonic board president Mandy Gollihar.

Despite canceling the first two shows of the season and a performance by Kristen Hertzenberg and her All-Star Band that had been postponed from the 2019-20 season, the Philharmonic kicked off its season with two "Interlude" concerts at the zoo, with roughly 400 attending each outdoor performance.

The new season will move the audience back indoors, but with changes.

Health protocols in place include audience members and musicians wearing face masks throughout the concert.

The concerts will be one hour, eliminating the need for intermission.

The audience will be limited to 30 percent of capacity of First Baptist, which is 1,300 (including its balcony). At the conclusion of performances, the audience will be dismissed row by row, back to front, to prevent crowding.

Tickets for the revamped season go on sale Oct. 27. Ticket priority will be given current season subscribers.

Greg Jaklewicz is editor of the Abilene Reporter-News. If you appreciate locally driven news, you can support local journalists with a digital subscription to ReporterNews.com

This article originally appeared on Abilene Reporter-News: Abilene Philharmonic revamps 2021 portion of season, moves to First Baptist

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