Just like many other organizations this past year, the Central Texas Orchestral Society has needed to play things by ear.
The pandemic has caused the organization trouble holding its performances this concert season. The organization’s normal events, such as concerts featuring international musicians, dances and workshops have all needed to either be postponed or reworked to keep attendees and performers safe.
Becky Montgomery, chair of the organization’s board, said so far this year all of the group’s performances have had issues.
Montgomery said the group is working on rescheduling and putting on shows for this season while booking performances a year in advance.
“We plan a year in advance,” Montgomery said. “Actually that has been a big challenge this year because this is the time we are planning and securing the artists for next season. But, while we are doing that, we are simultaneously trying to reschedule these groups that have had to cancel.”
Montgomery said the organization has run into multiple problems bringing artists to the Azalee Marshall Cultural Activities Center where they host their shows.
One of the major issues, Montgomery said, was restrictions on travel from both outside the country and inside. For musicians such as the Aizuri String Quartet from New York, who had planned on coming to Temple, the need to quarantine two weeks after going back home deterred them from traveling.
International pianist Fei Fei Dong had to cancel her performance set for later this month due to her inability to get a travel visa.
“The lockdown has put a huge hamper on a lot of international artists, not just the ones we invited but all over the world,” Montgomery said. “The government offices were shut down so it made it difficult for a lot of traveling artists to obtain their visas in a proper timeline.”
Aside from concerts, Montgomery said the organization also hosts clubs for local high school and middle school students which are a big part of their funding. These clubs put on activities such as classes on manners and dancing.
Montgomery said the pandemic had cut down this year on the number of children interested in participating.
“Typically kids start signing up for that in the summer and we delayed all of that to mid-Fall,” Montgomery said. “As you might imagine there were still some parents that were hesitant, thinking that it was the antithesis of social distancing.”
Despite worries, Montgomery said the dances this year have gone well and participants learned line dancing and others that are more socially distant.
While the pandemic has caused problems, Montgomery said the organization has worked around them, either rescheduling performances or hosting virtual concerts.
Montgomery said for the performance of Fei Fei Dong, who was supposed to perform April 10, her agent helped get the organization a replacement pianist. The new pianist, who will perform 7:30 p.m. April 10 at the CAC, is Dominic Cheli, one of the five finalists for the American Pianist Awards.
Later next month the organization will also be presenting Chanticleer, a male vocal ensemble from California, virtually with attendees able to watch at the CAC in person.
Those interested in watching one of the organization’s shows may visit ctosarts.org.