Months after announcing it would attempt to have an in-person season starting in January 2021, the Bangor Symphony Orchestra will move its entire 125th season to digital platforms, it announced Thursday.
The move comes as COVID-19 cases across the state and the nation continue to spike. BSO executive director Brian Hinrichs said shifting the season to digital was ultimately the necessary choice, as the virus was clearly not subsiding in time for a January launch, with gathering restrictions still in place, and with a vaccine unlikely to be in wide circulation by then.
“It became really clear in September that we needed to have a full digital plan in place,” Hinrichs said. “It’s a lot easier to scale up and bring more musicians on stage if conditions change. It’s a lot harder to scale down at the last minute. We couldn’t make a plan for an unknown future. We needed to make a plan for now.”
A free digital chamber concert is set for 2:45 p.m., Sunday, Nov. 22, featuring BSO music director Lucas Richman on piano and Angel Hernandez on violin, Simon Bilyk on violin, Laura Gallucci on viola and Noreen Silver on cello, performing music from 1896, the BSO’s inaugural year.
The five digital concerts for the 125th season will start on Feb. 12, with three pieces never before performed by the BSO — by Swiss-American composer Ernest Bloch, pioneering African-American composer Florence Price, and J.S. Bach, whose Keyboard Concerto in D minor will be performed with guest Spencer Myer on piano.
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It’ll be followed by concerts on March 26, April 23, May 2 and June 18. The March concert will feature a new concerto by composer Reinaldo Moya, winner of the inaugural Ellis-Beauregard Foundation Composer Award, a new effort from the Maine-based foundation that awards a commission to a composer to create a new work to be performed by the BSO. It will feature pianist Joyce Yang, and the concert will also feature works by Arvo Part and Tchaikovsky.
Hinrichs said that each performance will be pre-taped at the Collins Center for the Arts, and will be available to watch for 30 days from the day it goes live. And though season subscribers will be given first priority to watch the concerts, individuals will be able to purchase a one-time screening pass for $10 after the performances go live.
Should circumstances begin to change in the spring for restrictions on gatherings, Hinrichs said the orchestra would begin to consider allowing people in to watch the concerts being taped.
“If you are a subscriber, you will be first in line if we can seat anybody for these concerts,” he said. “But the plan is to not have any audiences. We will just have to see what the future holds.”
To purchase subscriptions or watch performances, visit bangorsymphony.org.