ProMusica's summer series concerts set in Columbus, Dublin, Gahanna

NATE ELLIS
nellis@thisweeknews.com
A ProMusica Chamber Orchestra concert held last year at Franklin Park Conservatory and Botanical Gardens, 1777 E. Broad St. in Columbus, drew a large crowd. This summer, attendance at the musical group's concerts mostly will be limited to 100 people per event, so seven concerts have been planned in Columbus, Dublin and Gahanna.

Shut down more than six months because of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, officials with the Columbus-based ProMusica Chamber Orchestra said they hope to inspire and bring healing to audiences and its own musicians through a revamped Summer Music Series.

ProMusica officials plan to return to live performances beginning Sunday, Aug. 30, when they present "SummerFEST Kick Off – A Classical Brunch Fundraiser," from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., at The Fives, 555 W. Goodale St., Columbus.

It will mark the first time since the pandemic hit Ohio that the group, comprising about 40 musicians from around the world, has played before a live audience.

It also will start a seven-concert series organizers hope will engage concertgoers safely and allow orchestra members to fulfill their passion to play and share music.

"In a time deprived of beauty and live art, it was important for us to find our way," said Janet Chen, ProMusica CEO. "I hope SummerFEST and the Summer Music Series brings back some of that energy in our lives and brings hope."

The kickoff event will be followed by:

* A chamber music concert at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 1, at the Ohio Village at the Ohio History Connection, 800 E. 17th Ave., Columbus.

ProMusica chamber groups, joined by violinist Vadim Gluzman, will perform an evening of string quartet and brass quintet works, such as "Orange Blossom Special," Brahms' "Hungarian Dances" and "Ashokan Farewell."

* A 7 p.m. Sept. 4 concert at Gahanna's Drive-In Series in Headley Park, 1031 Challis Springs Drive, that will feature Grammy-winning artist Gabriela Lena Frank's "Toyos" and "Coquestos" from "Leyendas: An Andean Walkabout," Mozart's "Clarinet Quintet" and Dvorak's "Serenade for Winds."

* A 7 p.m. Sept. 5 concert in Headley Park and a 5 p.m. Sept. 6 concert in Dublin's Coffman Park, 5200 Emerald Parkway, that will include Mendelssohn's "Violin Concerto in D Minor," Ennio Morricone's "Gabriel's Oboe" and Grieg's "Holberg Suite." The concerts will honor composer Morricone, who died in July, and will feature Gluzman performing the Mendelssohn.

* A 6 p.m. Sept. 10 concert in Coffman Park and a 7 p.m. Sept. 11 concert in Headley Park that will include George Walker's "Lyric for Strings," Mozart's "Divertimento K. 136 Salzburg," Max Richter's "On the Nature of Daylight" and Mozart's "Eine Kleine Nachtmusik."

Tickets for the concerts will range from $11 to $100. They may be purchased online at promusicacolumbus.org or by calling 614-464-0066. More information about the shows and attendance guidelines is available online.

ProMusica music director David Danzmayr said in order to pull off the series, ProMusica management and its board of trustees worked with representatives of the venues and the Franklin County Public Health to ensure the concerts are in compliance with all Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines.

Tickets must be purchased online or by phone in advance of the concerts to limit capacity, and face coverings and physical-distancing requirements will be enforced. Protocols have been developed to ensure the safety and health of ProMusica's musicians, including plans to have no more than 15 performers on a stage at one time.

"Performing together in the time of COVID-19 presents its own set of challenges," Danzmayr said. "Just as we social distance in the audience, the musicians will also have strict social-distancing rules on the stage, as well as health protocols they must follow for everyone's safety.

"The wonderful thing about ProMusica is this organization takes care of each other, so we already have the right mindset to do SummerFEST in the best way possible during this time."

The concerts will last approximately 60 to 75 minutes, with no intermissions.

With attendance for most shows capped at 100 per show, it is a vast departure from ProMusica's typical Summer Music Series, which in recent years has seen the orchestra perform for more than 5,000 people over three nights.

"We wanted to think outside the box so we could perform safely and live and try to reach as many people as possible," Chen said. "The reason we made it two weeks is because of the restrictions on capacity.

"We'd rather try to do something and find a solution and bring music to 1,000 – or even 500 – versus doing nothing at all. Even if we can't reach as many numbers of people as we would normally in the summer, we're reaching people."

Engaging and inspiring audiences through music are primary keys to ProMusica's mission, Chen said, adding organization officials said they believe they have a responsibility to be part of people's lives and bring them relief and joy during the pandemic.

"We also want to continue to be part of this community," she said. "We're all in this together."

Chen said the series provides a needed outlet for ProMusica's musicians, who have been on the sidelines for most of 2020 and who still are unsure if they'll be able to perform their regularly scheduled season, which annually begins in October.

"It has been over six months since we last performed as a full orchestra," she said. "To say we are ecstatic to be back together for this two-week festival of outdoor concerts would be an understatement.

"For months, we have worked nonstop to find new and innovative ways to perform safely – not only for live audiences but also for our musicians.

"The ever-changing patterns of COVID-19 have challenged us to our core, but we are very proud to have put together SummerFEST that embodies all that we are committed to: safety; artistic excellence; unique locations; and geographic range to serve as much of our community as possible."

nellis@thisweeknews.com

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