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Peoria’s Symphony Season To Start With Some Changes

Peoria Symphony Orchestra

Despite challenges imposed by the coronavirus, area symphonies are tuning up for another season.

Both the Peoria Symphony Orchestra and the Heartland Festival Orchestra have released a slate of performances for the fall — with some changes from years past.

The Peoria Symphony, entering its 123rd year, will open with a Sept. 26 performance of Vivaldi’s “Four Seasons” — and no live audience. Instead the program, featuring music director George Stelluto and Charles Yang on violin, will be telecast on WTVP’s Create channel.

Heartland’s “Mostly Mozart” program, featuring pianist Eun Joo Chung opens Sept. 19 at Five Points in Washington with a limited audience.

“We will have 100 subscribers for in-person admission to concerts, and we are also offering dress rehearsal in-person admission to another 100 subscribers at a different price point,” said Heartland musical director David Commanday. Social distancing will be applied at the Five Points auditorium that has a capacity for 1,000 people.

“Online-only (live-stream access) will also be offered to anyone – at a subscription price, or at a single-concert price individually. This offer is going to go out to subscribers for renewal this week – and if there are in-person slots left after the renewal period we will open it up,” said Commanday.

The Peoria Symphony will also offer televised concerts on Oct. 24 and Nov. 21 with tentative plans to return to the Peoria Civic Center Theater on Jan. 17 for a Broadway matinee. Additional programs for February, March and April are also scheduled for the Civic Center.

“We do not yet know what the guidelines for attendance will be,” said marketing director Mae Gilliland Wright. “However, subscribers will receive priority access to seats for live concerts. Single tickets may be made available if the situation allows.”

Heartland’s 2020-21 schedule includes programs on Oct. 31 and Jan. 23, as well as March, April and May.

In addition to safeguarding the audience, both symphonies have had to ensure the safety of musicians during the pandemic.

The three Peoria Symphony programs will be recorded this fall at Grace Presbyterian Church with small and socially distanced orchestras, said Wright.

The symphony set-up “will look a little different,” said Commanday, pointing out that “string musicians can wear masks, but woodwind players cannot.”

For more information on programs, see peoriasymphony.org and heartlandfestivalorchestra.org.

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