If you thought the Symphony of Northwest Arkansas (SoNA) wasn’t going to be able to have a season at all amidst the COVID-19 pandemic this year, you were wrong, buddy. So wrong.
SoNA officials this week announced that their 2020 season, though a bit different than originally planned, will in fact go on in with socially-distanced outdoor performances, virtual concerts, livestream experiences, and more.
“For those who already know and love SoNA, this reimagined season is a chance to get to know our orchestra in a new and deeper way,” said SoNA Executive Director D. Riley Nicholson. “It’s also a chance for us to creatively connect with our community and reach new audiences who might not feel comfortable at this time in the confines of a concert hall.”
The season kicked off on Sunday, Oct. 4 with an intimate performance on Mount Sequoyah featuring a string quartet made up of SoNA musicians. A second outdoor performance, called “Colors of the Harp” is coming up on Friday, Oct. 16 near the gazebo of Mount Sequoyah Center’s cottage circle. The show, set for 6 p.m., will feature SoNA harpist Alison Coffey, and will include some of her favorite works for solo harp covering a wide range of musical history from composers like Franz Liszt, Domenico Scarlatti, Benjamin Britten and Henriette Renié.
Also this season, SoNA musicians will begin releasing Solos from Home, a series of short solo video performances recorded by SoNA musicians, and posted to SoNA’s social media channels. The performances, SoNA officials said, will give listeners a chance to learn more about the individual personalities of SoNA, as each musician will provide insights on their musical choices.
Also in the works are weekly virtual performances by the SoNA singers for the holidays posted online throughout the month of December, and a 20-piece string orchestra performing a live-streamed virtual concert from The Momentary’s new start of the art black box theatre, Fermentation Hall (dates to be announced.)
The full orchestra is planning two digital events this season. The first one will be release din Early November, and will feature a classical program paired with “visual artistry” intended to complement and add a layer of depth to the music.
The second performance will take place at a date to be announced in the spring, and will focus on a contemporary program. For this performance, SoNA will team with composer Ray Lustic on his piece Latency Canons, a show designed to be experienced digitally that uses “the latency inherent in digital communication platforms for musical effects.”
Additional performances, including in-person outdoor, virtual, if possible, socially-distanced shows at Walton Arts Center, could be announced at a later date.
“While admittedly a challenging time for symphonies everywhere, we have a rare opportunity to reevaluate the status quo, find new ways to reconnect with our audiences, and reimagine what an orchestra can be,” Nicholson said. “Through SoNA’s reimagined season, our musical offerings will not just adapt to current obstacles, but also speak to the moment in time we find ourselves in.”
To stay up to date on new announcements as the season continues to evolve, follow SoNA on social media. For tickets to one of this season’s performances or more information, visit sonamusic.org.