The Tehachapi Symphony Orchestra has worked out a plan to re-open its concert schedule, which has been halted by safety concerns related to the COVID-19 virus.
The first of six concerts will be Sept. 13 at the Country Oaks Baptist Church.
The concert will be presented in two parts. Wind and horn instruments, which release hot, moist air that can reach an audience, will play outdoors, followed by the strings playing inside the auditorium.
"The show will open outdoors at approximately 3:30 p.m. with a wind ensemble playing out of doors, a sort of parking lot concert," concertmaster and Tehachapi Symphony Orchestra Board of Directors President Gayel Pitchford told the Kiwanis Club of Tehachapi at its July 8 meeting.
"The wind ensemble will be distanced, and the audience will be encouraged to sit in their cars and listen to the great music. Then at 4 p.m. the concert will resume inside the church with the 'Masked Strings' plus piano, playing a concert that includes works by Tchaikovsky, Mozart, Vaughn Williams and Ernest Bloch."
None of those works, Pitchford said, has been performed in Tehachapi.
In future concerts, if the selection is a symphony and the virus remains an issue, strings can be substituted for the winds and keyboard for the brass, Pitchford said.
The audience will be spaced apart in the auditorium. Most of the Tehachapi Symphony Orchestra concerts fill the venue, and tickets may be limited due to social distancing.
The orchestra members, including conductor Dr. David Newby, will be masked, and the audience will be required to wear masks. The customary reception following the concert — where the audience mingles with the musicians — will not take place.
"The board is doing everything to make this a safe — and beautiful — concert," Pitchford said. "It is to create beauty under the circumstances, and it presents a bit of normalcy as well."
The Tehachapi Symphony Orchestra has a robust feeder system that trains upcoming musicians to play in an orchestral setting.
"Once we started an orchestra and some teaching practices here, we realized that beginning players must have actual orchestra experience before they could become advanced enough to play with the symphony," Pitchford said. "We started two smaller orchestras under the auspices of the symphony: One is a junior orchestra, where people just learning to play an instrument and read music can come and learn orchestra protocols, like following the conductor, turning pages for their stand partner and subordinating their own playing for the great good of the entire orchestra."
Pitchford added: "The second orchestra, Tehachapi Strings, is an intermediate to advanced orchestra, where players who are practicing, taking lessons and have moved to an intermediate level can further hone their skills and learn repertoire."
The symphony board offers an annual Young Artist scholarship and the opportunity to play a concerto with the orchestra. Violinist/fiddler B.J. Zheng won the 2019 Young Artist competition, playing Beethoven’s Violin Concerto with the orchestra.
Groups of musicians in the orchestras are available to play small outdoor events, "even if it is just a private concert for you in your back yard," Pitchford said.
"The thing about musicians is that they must play music. It is in their DNA, apparently."
For information on the Tehachapi Symphony Orchestra and available chamber ensembles, call Pitchford at 821-7511.
For information on the Kiwanis Club of Tehachapi, call Tina Cunningham, 822-4515.