This October, as the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra launched its 104th season, musicians took to the stage in their formal attire and performed to a largely empty Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall.
A small team of engineers checked sound and video as the new high-definition cameras livestreamed the performance directly into the audience’s homes.
“We’re trying to embrace the weirdness of this time,” says associate conductor Nicholas Hersh, pictured right, who, like his colleagues, wore a mask. “The music is still here, and we’re working as hard as we can to keep it a part of everyone’s lives.”
An extension of BSO OffStage, a digital platform launched in the wake of COVID-19, the new BSO Sessions brings the players back to the stage after a summer of canceled concerts. Smaller, socially distanced string ensembles (for now at least—wind players can’t wear face coverings) will be performing an innovative repertoire focused on diversity and inclusion.
“The halt of live music hurt, but orchestras needed this time to reflect and improve,” says Jonathan Rush, pictured left, the BSO’s new assistant conductor. “We have such a cool opportunity to present voices we don’t often hear in classical music. I think the world is tired of the old, dead, white men. Let’s bring on women composers and composers of color and explore what else the world has to offer.”