Cancel. Postpone. Reschedule. Pick your verb.
Since the coronavirus has swept through our lives, area musicians and their organizations have chosen one of those three paths.
In early March, the 13th annual Durango Bach Festival got off to a swimming start with student recitals and the tasty Bach’s Lunch programs. But by week’s end, the big finale had to be canceled because of the march of the pandemic.
Only last week, we looked forward to: “The French Connection,” a stand-alone offering in the St. Mark’s Recital Series featuring Kathryn Shaffer, Tennille Taylor and Kristen Chen. Postponed.
Next week, May 3, we eagerly anticipated the Durango Chamber Singers performing “The Elements.” Postponed. Both of these spring chamber music events were sponsored by 3rd Ave. Arts.
Here’s the good news. According to C. Scott Hagler, executive director of 3rd Ave. Arts: “We are planning to reschedule both.” Those dates will be announced when feasible and appropriate.
The bad news, Hagler said, is that the June 8-19 Durango Chamber Music has been canceled entirely along with all summer music camps. Ticket purchases and registration fees will be refunded.
A similar story of massive preparation leading up to polished performances has plagued other organizations. In early April, the San Juan Symphony canceled its final concert pair of the season featuring violinist Karen Kim.
“We’re in a holding pattern right now,” Music Director Thomas Heuser said in a telephone interview. “There are so many uncertainties. We’ve got between five and 500 scenarios about what to do. But one thing is certain, we’re going to come out of this hungry for music.”
Heuser said next season’s concert dates will remain in place for the time being.
“I’m optimistic. And the Beethoven anniversary year isn’t over yet,” he said.
In 2020, the San Juan Symphony joined orchestras all over the world to celebrate the 250th anniversary of Beethoven’s birth. Heuser launched Beethoven Year early on Jan. 30, when he gave a free lecture in the Fort Lewis College Life Long Learning Series: “Beethoven, Romantic Genius.” Heuser followed up with his popular pre-concert lectures in February, when the orchestra performed Beethoven’s “Leonore Overture” and Symphony No. 3. Heuser added a high-calorie dessert to an already rich concert program when he commissioned Michigan composer David Biedenbender to create a new work inspired by the “Leonore Overture.” Biedenbender’s “something deeply hidden” formally opened Beethoven@2020 in Durango and Farmington on the weekend of Feb. 22-23.
In April, Heuser and company were to perform the Coriolan Overture, and next fall, the plan was to perform Beethoven’s Mass in C with Linda Mack and the Durango Choral Society.
“At this moment, we’re not sure what will happen,” Heuser said. “In 2021, Beethoven will be 251. We’ll work out the details together.”
Mack and Durango Choral Society have had to face a long list of cancellations on their own.
“First, we lost the final concert of the Bach Festival, then our trip to Italy, which had been planned for two years,” Mack said. “Then, the entire spring DCS season for both the adult and children’s choirs.”
Mack said she was planning to start rehearsals June 9 for the big summer Beethoven event, his Ninth Symphony.
“I had 90 singers from three states signed up to sing, and we were hoping beyond hope that things would recover in time for that performance. But, of course, Music in the Mountains made the absolutely correct call,” she said.
All Festival Orchestra concerts for this summer have been canceled according to Executive Director Angie Beach.
“Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Music in the Mountains plans to modify its 34th season – July 11 through Aug. 2,” she said. “At this time, however, all Festival Orchestra performances have been canceled.”
The focus instead will be on smaller chamber and world music events.
“We are very fluid at this time in our plans, so we’re unable to reveal program possibilities for smaller performances until later,” Beach said.
When asked about the possibility of scheduling Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony at a later date, Beach said: “It’s not an impossibility. We definitely hope to perform it in 2021.”
That would be good news for all, Mack concurred.
“The text of Beethoven’s magnificent Ninth Symphony reflects a theme of universal brotherhood and hope for a right future,” she said. “When the Music in the Mountains Festival programmed this work nearly two years ago, none of us had any idea of how timely that message would turn out to be. I hope that we will be able to sing, play and rejoice again very soon.”
Judith Reynolds is an arts journalist and member of the American Theatre Critics Association.