Last year, as the Covid-19 pandemic swept the nation, performing groups weren’t sure how to proceed. Some canceled their shows. Others played limited engagements. Still, others tweaked performances to allow for the safest concerts possible.
That’s what the Fairbanks Symphony Orchestra did last season when it opted to perform with only strings on stage. That is changing this year as the entire orchestra is back Sunday for the fall opener at Davis Concert Hall.
“Last season with Covid restrictions, our season included works that would only be performed by players who could wear masks and be socially distanced. We were only able to perform works with the strings,” said music director Eduard Zilberkant. “With the relaxation of restrictions to use winds and brass, we are very happy to welcome back our colleagues in the brass and woodwind sections. It was my desire to feature every section of the orchestra in our opening concert.”
Sunday’s performance starts at 4 p.m. in Davis Concert Hall and includes Aaron Copland’s “Fanfare for the Common Man,” Charles Gounod’s “Petite Symphonie,” Samuel Barber’s “Adagio for Strings” and Richard Wagner’s “Siegfried Idyl.” Tickets for the concert, as well as the rest of season, are available online at fairbankssymphony.org.
“With this concert, we are reintroducing the entire orchestra to our audience,” Zilberkant said of the season opener.
Come October, the symphony is producing a Halloween concert with seasonal favorites like selections from “Phantom of the Opera,” Camille Saint-Saens’ “Danse Macabre Op. 40,” Bernard Herrmann’s “Psycho” suite and Edvard Grieg’s “In the Hall of the Mountain King,” among other works. That’s followed by an all-local concert featuring Alaska performers in November. December brings the symphony’s Design Alaska Holiday Show — which always sells out — with the spring seeing the Concerto Competition Winners Concert, the Golden Heart Winter Recital, and a performance honoring the works of Schubert and Copland.
“This season will include old warhorse repertoire as well as new works that the orchestra has never played and the Fairbanks’ audience has never heard,” Zilberkant said. “It is very exciting to hear a live symphony concert. That experience can never be replaced by television or CD recordings. I would like to urge all of the Fairbanks’ community to come and support this wonderful orchestra who has worked very hard during this terrible pandemic to bring classical music to our community.”
Because the symphony performs in Davis Concert Hall on the University of Alaska Fairbanks campus, protocols are in place for guests.
“At this time, for performances, all concert goers must wear a mask to attend,” said Jenni Warren, the symphony’s managing director. “We encourage online ticket sales to minimize contact with box office staff and to save money. Purchasing your tickets online can save you $3 per ticket. You can even purchase tickets online from your smartphone when you’re at the concert hall. Our ushers will scan your tickets rather than taking them from you to help minimize contact. If patrons do purchase tickets at the box office, we have implemented contactless credit card payment devices to maximize our patrons’ safety.”
Last season saw the introduction of streamed performances as well as some broadcast on local stations. New this year is a Virtual Season Subscription, which can be purchased online. One week after a concert, virtual subscribers will be able to view the concert online.
“Last season was such a challenge figuring out how to bring our community much needed FSO performances,” Warren said. “We were proud to offer broadcast and streamed events free of charge last season, and as a result, we were able to put together two different ways for our community to participate with us this season. Above all, we want our patrons to feel comfortable taking in our performances, so learning from last season helped us to be able to offer concert goers more options.”
If You Go
What: Symphony season opener
When: 4 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 26, 2021
Where: Davis Concert Hall
Tickets: Available online at fairbankssymphony.org
Aaron Copland, "Fanfare for the Common Man"
Charles Gounod, "Petite Symphonie"
Samuel Barber, "Adagio for Strings"
Richard Wagner, "Siegfried Idyl"