‘Night Music’: Another chapter of Flagstaff Symphony Orchestra

Flagstaff Symphony Orchestra "Night Music" poster. (Courtesy of Flagstaff Symphony Orchestra)

Introducing “Night Music:” an online concert that brings the experience of classical entertainment music into the household. Hosted by the Flagstaff Symphony Orchestra (FSO), the program will showcase pieces by composers Vincent d’Indy, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Gary Carpenter and include a variety of related activities.

FSO executive director FSO Larry Lang said the event is intended for “intimate evening gatherings ... our program includes songs and dances, a beautiful serenade and even a musical game of billiards.” 

The concert, along with its activities, will be held exclusively online due to pandemic safety restrictions. While some may wonder about the lack of intimacy inherent to online communication, the arrangement of the event is a special opportunity in itself that will allow a variety of audiences to participate. Such an ability to enjoy professional musicianship without the formality of a concert hall has made it easier than ever to integrate a variety of potential listeners, who may not have had the ability to physically attend a concert in the first place. Now, those interested in attending may do so at whatever time they please, with the leisure and comfort of home.

The change in arrangement from in-person to digital broadens the program’s outreach, and the FSO has altered their approach to advertising accordingly. FSO public relations intern Valerie Pietrczak stated the organization has advertised “Night Music” primarily through newsletters and Facebook, which has a different audience than FSO usually reaches.

While the constraints of a formal, in person concert are withheld in this instance, the FSO is concerned with the attendance of its usual audience. 

“Some people do not have the technology, and others might not be familiar or comfortable enough with technology to take part in this new form of delivery,” Pietrczak said. “Our goal right now is to retain the interest of our audience despite the pandemic.”

Besides the alteration in format, the number of performing musicians has also been adjusted to accommodate social distancing guidelines. 

“We only have small groups of musicians performing at a time — seven to 10 people in addition to the conductor,” Pietrczak said. The musicians are seated to accommodate for physical distancing and wind players wear special masks, either with a hole for the mouthpiece of the instrument on the front or side of the mask. Brass players also have horn covers on the bell of their instrument to limit the spread of particles.”  

This smaller-scale instrumentation alters the blend of a full orchestra ensemble, and will allow the participating musicians to explore another side of orchestra music apart from full orchestration. The exhibition from this showcase will be an exciting deviation from the usual full ensemble.

FSO has only held one other previous virtual concert, an event from January called “Musical Stories,” so the online format is still a new frontier to be explored. Despite the obvious difficulties stemming from the current state of live entertainment, the transition revealed a public desire to keep the music alive. The FSO has noticed “a growing interest in the welfare of the organization” as the fate of live showmanship ultimately lies in the hands of the public.

So, not only will participants get the chance to enjoy the passionate intensity of an orchestra ensemble and other related activities in the comforts of their own home, but they will also garner the satisfaction of supporting a local organization that is dedicated to cultivating quality entertainment, even in the midst of a pandemic.

“Night Music” is available beginning Feb. 20 for $25 via Vimeo, and once purchased, viewers may enjoy the concert anytime at their convenience until the end of the month. 

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