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Omaha Symphony plays on despite pandemic

Makes changes to keep tradition going
Posted at 11:23 AM, Dec 13, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-13 12:23:52-05

OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — The Omaha Symphony has graced the stages of this city since 1921, but they’ve never experienced a year like this.

“I think we first really experienced this at the beginning of March when we canceled one of our performances because of the pandemic,” said Jennifer Boomgaarden, CEO and President of the Omaha Symphony. “I think we all expected in the spring that that would be a short-term thing but realized quickly that it was going to be a longer process.”

Orchestra members normally sit close together, sharing music stands and watching a conductor for cues.

But like so many other organizations in 2020, the symphony had to get creative to keep everyone safe.

“The orchestra is socially distanced on stage...everyone is masked. We had custom masks built for our winds and brass players to make sure everyone is safe there,” Boomgaarden said.

The symphony primarily plays at the Holland Performing Arts Center, which normally seats about 2,000 people.

Boomgaarden said they have experienced a loss in revenue with smaller audiences, but are fortunate that the community continues to support them.

Ernest Richardson, a conductor with the Omaha Symphony, praises the musicians for how they’ve worked to adapt.

“It becomes a very visual kind of art form now where we’re playing specifically with the stick, even if it's a little strange for us all to be so separated...and that's how it works, but it’s really a credit to them,” Richardson said.

The symphony recently wrapped up filming their annual Christmas concert.

“The music is as diverse as you could imagine. It goes from Christmas carols to crooning contemporary music to really up-tempo music,” Richardson added.

They’re also featuring dancers from Connecticut in the performance.

“They are going to listen to the soundtrack that we are creating, we are going to combine these together, and it's going to be an amazing visual feast,” Richardson said.

For more information on how to watch for free, visit the symphony’s website.

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