POCATELLO — The Idaho State-Civic Symphony had just finished its dress rehearsal for a concert called “Tales of Sorrow and Triumph” in March 2020.
It was music that told stories of those who had been traumatized and victimized, and yet, in the end, survived and in some cases even triumphed, said symphony Artistic Director and Conductor Julie Sorensen.
But on the morning of the concert, the COVID-19 virus hit Idaho and the concert was delayed and subsequently canceled. And it became evident that the symphony would not be able to bring music to the community through live performances, Sorensen said.
But Sorensen, along with the organization’s board of directors, agreed that the music had to live on. Thus, the 2020-2021 symphony season of Metamorphosis was born, she said.
And at 7:30 p.m. Friday, the symphony will broadcast its fifth concert of the Metamorphosis season and its first for the new year.
The evolution of the season began with four different contingency plans that would take into account various restrictions and guidelines that could be put into place by Idaho State University or the state of Idaho.
“Among the plans was the concept of moving all performances from the concert hall into the virtual realm,” Sorensen said.
Creating a virtual concert hall and streaming event required a lot of learning on how to create video content that would be both enjoyable and accessible, she said.
And since the pandemic resulted in job losses the symphony decided the concerts would be offered free to the community for the 2020-2021 season.
“We love this community and believe in the power of music to bring comfort in a time of great hardship,” Sorensen said. “Our work as a symphony for our community is more important than ever.”
But for the symphony to accomplish the metamorphosis it had to work within the guidelines created by health officials and the university.
The health guidelines required wearing masks, observing social distancing, wiping down all stands and chairs, and taking air circulation breaks for every hour of rehearsal, according to Sorensen.
A maximum of only 38 musicians would be permitted on stage.
So that created significant challenges for the musicians, Sorensen said.
“It’s quite a task to accomplish as musicians rely upon being in close proximity to one another to listen, blend and create together,” she said.
Music repertoire was chosen to support and reflect the concept of Metamorphosis. It was picked from the major eras of change throughout music history.
Music this season has included works from Bach, Mozart, Beethoven and Rachmaninoff.
Rehearsals began in August and the symphony has now released four concerts. Two of the concerts were recorded live and two concerts released music from previous performances, she said.
The concert, which is free to the public, will feature music from Felix Mendelssohn and Pyotr Tchaikovsky.
The free online link for this concert and the symphony’s concerts on March 19 and April 16 can be found on their website at www.thesymphony.us
“I have been humbled by the hard work and determination of our musicians, board, sponsors and technical staff to keep music performance alive,” Sorensen said. “I look forward to when we can once again gather together in the concert hall, but in the meantime I hope the community will support us in our efforts and watch the concerts online.”
She adds that during a time when so many symphonies have closed, the Idaho State-Civic Symphony is lucky to continue its work.
She says it has now, through the marvels of technology, been heard all around the world.
“I have found it rather ironic that our last live concert of 2020 was meant to depict sorrow and triumph,” Sorensen said. “It now stands as a lesson in hope and reminds me that even though we are going through a great deal of sorrow, we will, in the end, triumph.”