In 2020, arts organizations around the country have had to reinvent what it means to perform. Large audiences and venues lined with rows of seats no longer fit the norm, and orchestras are finding new and interesting ways of accommodating the world we now live in. Below are just two examples of larger orchestras that have been able to adapt to these challenges and continue to make music in new, creative ways.

The New York Philharmonic has tackled this challenge by creating an entirely new idea: The NY Phil Bandwagon. The ensemble collaborated to produce over 80 live, outdoor, “pull-up” performances throughout the boroughs of New York City. While the Bandwagon’s tour is completed for the season as winter approaches, they will be back on the road again in the Spring.

This year’s performances took place from August 28 through October 18, and many are available for viewing through the NY Phil’s website or YouTube pages. Their performances were based around various themes, such as the passing of Ruth Bader Ginsberg, An Ode to Rosa Parks, and more. Several World Premieres were commissioned specifically for the NY Phil Bandwagon.

To find out more about the New York Philharmonic or the NY Phil Bandwagon, visit their website at https://nyphil.org.

Additionally, this summer the Minnesota Orchestra partnered with Kindly, an online volunteering organization, and Lyngblomsten Senior Housing, Healthcare & Services to both write letters of encouragement to the seniors to uplift spirits. In August, members of the orchestra’s brass quintet banded together and paid a surprise visit to the home to play a socially distanced outdoor concert.

The quintet played in three outdoor locations at the home, accompanied by their homemade signs brought to their pen pals, who had begun to write over five months prior to the performance.

The letter writing program isn’t just for orchestra members either. Kindly has worked with the Minnesota Orchestra for over two years to coordinate this program, and the volunteer base is comprised of over 600 individuals. In a time when many seniors are unable to see family and loved ones, the quintet banded together with volunteers to make sure their music was heard, and their joy was spread.

By mobilizing the community of volunteers, the orchestra, and connecting to the seniors in the Lyngblomsten facility, a community was able to blossom through music during the COVID-19 pandemic.

To find out more about Kindly, visit https://letters.kindly.org. The Minnesota Orchestra’s website can be found at https://minnesotaorchestra.org.

Images Courtesy: NY Phil Bandwagon and Minnesota Orchestra