Symphony To Launch Virtual Fall Season

Joseph Giunta, music director, is leading the Des Moines Symphony through a virtual fall season, which features three livestreamed shows with events leading up to each one the week before. Photo: Des Moines Symphony.

Writers: Luke Manderfeld and Allaire Nuss

The pandemic has forced performing arts organizations everywhere to find alternatives this fall. The Des Moines Symphony’s solution? A livestreamed fall season, Live from the Temple, complete with a week of virtual classes, social events and prelude talks leading up to each concert. The season begins at 7 p.m. Thursday with “History and Folklore” (tickets are $15), a program that includes Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto No. 3 and Debussy’s “Sacred and Profane Dances,” among other works.

“There’s no playbook for this. You take the audience away, and there’s a leg of the stool that’s gone,” Music Director Joseph Giunta says. “Through the technology we have available to us, we can try to create some interesting programs and communicate to [audience members].”

Giunta says the Symphony is implementing safety precautions for its rehearsals and shows. He will be 7 feet away from all performers, and musicians will be 6 feet apart. That’s why the three shows—”Copland and Vivaldi” and “Winter Fantasia” will follow “History and Folklore”—will be performed by groups of 20 to 30 musicians at the Temple for Performing Arts.

“Something so natural and elementary, such as playing together, will be challenging,” Giunta says. “We’re not going to be able to hear each other as well. It’ll take more time to perfect and get us to the level we’re accustomed to. But I know the musicians are excited about gathering together, seeing each other again, and I think they’re going to be up for the challenges.”

Virtual events for “History and Folklore” began at 7 p.m. Tuesday with ReMix, an evening of mixology and music trivia held live on Zoom. At 6:30 p.m. Wednesday was Classical Conversations, featuring Eric McIntyre of Grinnell College and C.J. Bienert of the Cheese Shop for an online class that combined wine, cheese and music. Find details on the rest of the season here.

The fall season will also feature a special offer: The Symphony is providing free concert tickets to health care workers, teachers, and community and nonprofit organizations.

“We saw this idea as a way that we could show our appreciation to the people who have really been heroes of the pandemic in the last six months,” says Megan Helmers, the Symphony’s director of marketing and public relations. “It’s a really important thing to engage with our community through music. That’s something that’s always at the forefront of anything we do.”

The application for free tickets will be available until the Symphony’s first concert Thursday.

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