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Symphony musicians got creative in COVID downtime, find joy in returning to the stage

Sep 7, 2021

By Page Leggett, The Charlotte Observer 

The Charlotte Symphony Orchestra was in its final rehearsal in March 2020 for "The Empire Strikes Back" when musicians learned that the next night's show was canceled.

Bob Rydel, who plays French horn, recalled getting the news that Blumenthal Performing Arts was shuttering its venues, including Belk Theater, for the weekend. But it would be much longer before they performed as a full orchestra again. COVID-19 had arrived.

Now, at last, indoor concerts are back. Audience members are required to wear masks inside, except when consuming food or beverages in designated areas and must abide by any coronavirus protocols in place at the time of a performance.

But as the delta variant continues to fuel a surge in COVID cases, the orchestra announced in early September that it was changing its season-opening concert in October from one featuring Russian masters to Vivaldi's "Four Seasons."

The move was made, the orchestra said, "to accommodate a reduced orchestra and allow for additional spacing onstage for wind and brass players who are unable to be masked."

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