Jacksonville Symphony returns, but will sound different

The Jacksonville Symphony Orchestra has been silent since March. Wednesday night, the music returns, but it will sound different. It is the first of two open houses, which are free for the public before next Saturday’s opening night.

“It’s going to be exciting to be back. It’s also going to be very emotional,” Courtney Lewis, the music director, said. “We’re performing musicians and this is what we do. Not being able to do that has been difficult personally.”

The symphony had to cancel thirty shows from March to June, and lost about half a million dollars, the non-profit organization’s president and CEO, Steven Libman, said.

Starting Wednesday, the hall at the Times-Union Center will be socially distanced and capacity will be down about 65%.

“That means our box office earnings will be down about $2 million. That’s what’s going to hurt us,” Libman said. He added that they are still in need of donor support.

Temperatures will be checked at the door, masks are required, and seats are separated by six feet. The stage is also socially distanced. Normally, the symphony includes 75 musicians, this season will have 53.

“That means we’ve had to shake up the programming and to have fewer musicians on stage,” Lewis said. “Wind instruments are wearing masks with little circles cut out to fit in the reed if they can.” And if they can’t Lewis said there is a plexi-glass shield surrounding them.

Libman and Lewis agreed while the capacity is smaller, the energy will stay the same.

“That electricity that develops. Even if you’re physically distant from someone, you can still feel the electricity and enjoy the great music,” Libman said.

Tickets are limited and going fast. They can be purchased at: https://www.jaxsymphony.org/concert-tickets/

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