Sherman Symphony plans 2021-2022 season

Jerrie Whiteley
Herald Democrat
String instruments like this one shown in this October 2017 photo will take a prominent role in the first live concert for Sherman's Symphony Orchestra in November due to COVID-19 concerns.

The Sherman Symphony Orchestra is set to start in October. And while the music group is still going forward, the season has been affected by lingering COVID-19 struggles.

Director Daniel Dominick said the music community was hoping the COVID-19 situation would be over by now, but since it is not, they are acting accordingly.

"We had grand plans for the start of this season back in May and June when COVID infections had plummeted and it felt like things were finally calming down," he said in a recent email.

But, the Delta variant surge changed plans.

"We are taking the pandemic seriously and want to protect the health and safety of our audience and players," Dominick said in the email. "Our plan includes spacing the audience in the concert hall, asking the audience to mask, and providing a beautiful and meaningful concert with somewhat fewer players on stage."

That includes giving the musicians more space on stage and performing pieces that depend mainly on the string section of the orchestra.

"All players are vaccinated and wearing masks during rehearsals. So where we normally have 60 – 75 players in one of our big concerts, this concert will have about 40 musicians on the stage," Dominick said. "The plan was adjusted from a great big celebration of being together again to something more appropriate for now, but the music will be fantastic and something we don’t usually get to do.  With a symphony orchestra that has terrific brass and wind and percussion players—in addition to our great strings!—we don’t program many pieces that are for only strings or for strings and just a few wind players."

IF COVID-19 cases recede in later part of the season, it is hoped that wind instrumentalists like Suzy Baker shown in this 2017 photo, will play a normal part in the Sherman Symphony's later concerts this season.

The fall concert, which is set for Oct. 23, will consist  of a more intimate concert experience. It will include a pianist that local audiences may have heard: Scott Watkins.

"He’s playing the Back Piano Concert No. 4 and the orchestra for this Baroque piece is only strings. The audience will get to experience this bright and uplifting music with the sort of orchestra that might have been common in Bach’s day," Dominick said.

The concert will also include Mozart Symphony No. 29 in A major. That will be accompanied, Dominick said with just a pair of hors, two flutes and strings the way it might have been when back in Mozart's times. 

"I think it will be a real treat to hear this music performed this way," Dominick said. "We’ll also play three string pieces by the English composer Frederick Delius that are moody and atmospheric and really gorgeous. And we’ve found a piece by the African-American composer, William Grant Still, that has flute, piano solo, and strings It has the feeling of 1940, when it was written, with jazz harmonies and a beautiful melody. So much wonderful music of a type that we don’t get to often put together on a single concert."

The SSO will then perform its annual children's concerts in November. 

"We are planning for the Children’s Concerts to be in-person with a full orchestra on November 4. Schools are reserving their place right now and we are planning for more space in the seating of the schools," the email said.

Then, the next set of concerts are the holiday-themed shows that have become a part of the yuletide tradition for many local families.  

The Sherman Symphony Orchestra will return with live concerts in November by making allowances for COVID-19 precautions.

"As for Christmas Pops, we have our fingers crossed that things will be even better by then. We are planning for the full orchestra (all winds, brass, percussion) to be back on the stage," he said in the email.

"Pops is going to be a fun family event, as always. Because of the level of uncertainty for now I’m holding the cards a little close at this point in September! As the start of the holiday season for many area families, what keeps the audience coming back is great music (holiday music), great decorations, and such a family atmosphere and mood."

Due to COVID-19's continual presence, the table seating will be adjusted a little so that families can space a little more while still being able to bring their cookies and snacks. And there will be room kids to dance if they want.

"There’s something special about being at a live concert, and an orchestra seems like just the right group for holiday music. Families come because they know that they’ll experience something special," he said.

Dominick said while COVID-19 has made providing public music concerts more complicated, it has not seemed to dampen the local area's desire to hear from its local orchestra. 

"The community was so helpful and supportive last season when all of our concerts (4 concerts!) and recitals (8 individual pieces as little recitals!) were recorded and released on Facebook and YouTube. We’re hoping that our friends will be there for us this year, too.  One of our greatest supporters, the folks at Douglass Distributing, are the season sponsors and have made such a wonderful impact on the orchestra." 

He said so far the winter concert, Feb. 26 and the spring show, April 30, are being planned as regular presentations. But COVID-19 is still a factor with those shows as well. 

"I’m having to have several different programs planned. We fully expect to be in person and have the Sherman Symphony on the stage with an audience of eager listeners in Kidd-Key Auditorium.  I can’t tell you how much I wish we could plan and perform a regular, normal season!"

For more information about where and how to buy tickets for any of the upcoming performances, visit http://www.shermansymphony.com/.