A Fall Season Unlike Any Other

From our new residence in the beautiful McFarland Performing Arts Center to our new-found skills in online teaching and virtual performance, this coming Fall is looking full of promise and transformational change. What are the scenarios? Possibilities are still developing, but here are three scenarios for how WYSO’s Fall Season could play out.

The WYSO season begins with a fanfare with our first rehearsals in our new space! In Scenario #1, our season begins in September to coincide with the opening of the McFarland Schools. Students rehearse and prepare for concerts in the usual large orchestra formats. In Scenario #2, WYSO opts for a later October start date to allow flexibility for McFarland School District Programming. In Scenario #3, the start date could be September or October, but this scenario shows a remarkable new version of WYSO with the orchestras split into smaller groups for both rehearsals and performances.

Maestro Knox is hard at work designing new challenges and exciting new concert repertoire, and as a guest of the McFarland schools, we plan to follow their lead in all matters of start dates and safety. However, if you ask Mr. Knox, a top priority is to get our WYSO musicians safely in rooms with coaches and conductors so that everyone can begin playing music together! All of our conductors are looking forward to WYSO Saturdays in McFarland!

To implement a version of Scenario #3, Mr. Knox has been working to better understand the possibilities for groups of  4-10 musicians (as in chamber groups), 10-30 musicians (as in large ensembles), and 30-50 musicians (as in chamber orchestras) that will allow for correct distancing, playing together, and exciting repertoire.

Performances are always a part of the learning arc for WYSO musicians, and Mr. Knox’s goals for the Fall season include performances of safely spaced and attired WYSO musicians playing to audiences. And hopefully the audiences will be present at the performances.

What are other possible audience scenarios?

The staff team is hard at work examining current research and models. Will audience members wear masks and sit three seats apart? Will every concert be recorded or live-streamed by perfectly distanced musicians on stage, with an audience sitting in a nearby location? Or at home? Will each concert be performed more than once? Answers to these questions are still developing and yet, variations are currently being played out in concert halls across Europe and the United States as countries and states begin to emerge from quarantine. The ideas are flying across the internet and the excitement is clearly evident.

What else should you know?

  • We want you to know that we are absolutely excited to start the 2020-21 season at McFarland!
  • That the upcoming Fall season is going to require a degree of creative invention and innovation not seen in many years!
  • That it will require flexiblity, and at times will be unbelievably exciting.
  • That it is going to require consummate musicianship and thinking out-of-the-box.
  • And it will require all hands-on-deck wearing a multitude of hats.

Like that first WYSO Orchestra from 1966, led by Marvin Rabin, with high expectations and no history, this next year is going to be an amazing adventure. Five and ten and twenty years from now, there will be conversations that begin, “Remember when . . .”

Everyone on the WYSO Team is looking forward with great anticipation and expectations. You don’t want to miss a minute of it!

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