After a summer series reduced by COVID-19 to online-only performances, Gretna Music has resumed live concerts.
And, when the three-part series of live shows — which featured a family concert last Sunday and will showcase chamber music this coming Sunday and a jazz concert in September — concludes, a Gretna Music spokesman said they might resume streaming performances through winter and into next spring to keep musical opportunities going through an uncertain time.
“We are hoping for next year to be back live at Gretna Playhouse, but like everything else, that is still to be determined,” Carl Kane, artistic director for the series, said Tuesday.
Performances for the 44-year-old summer concert series at the playhouse were either cancelled or rescheduled after the pandemic led playhouse owners to shutter the popular Mount Gretna venue for the season. The current slate of live shows are being held outdoors at the Clarence Schock Nature Center at Governor Dick; if bad weather threatens, Kane said, the remaining two shows will be postponed.
The performance this Sunday begins at 5:30 p.m. at 3283 Pinch Road and features the Morales Duo — Dara Burkholder Morales, assistant principal second violin of the Philadelphia Orchestra, and her husband Jesus Morales, cellist with the Dali Quartet — with several chamber pieces.
The concert lineup includes Bela Bartok’s “Hungarian Folk Melodies” for violin and cello, Fritz Kreisler’s “Recitative and Scherzo” for solo violin, Johann Sebastian Bach’s “Suite No.1” for solo cello and Zoltan Kodaly’s “Duo” for violin and cello.
Registration is required for the event because of limited seating. To register, email [email protected].
The third concert in the series is tentatively scheduled for Sept. 13, but Kane said details on the jazz performance — including the musical guest — are pending.
Last week’s performance by master storyteller Charlotte Blake Alston drew about 50 people, “which is about as many people as we can socially distance at the nature center,” Kane said. “Everyone had a really good time.”
That includes Alston, who had been unable to perform for a live audience since early March, he said.
Coping with the new reality for music venues has been “interesting,” Kane said.
“Well, that’s one word for it,” he said with a chuckle.
Seating for the concerts is in a grassy area marked with 6-foot circles, or “pods,” which are designated viewing areas for individuals and small groups in attendance. Everyone, including staff and performers, must wear masks, Kane said, and everyone has their temperature taken when they arrive.
“There are no receptions, unfortunately, after the concerts, so people don’t get to rub elbows with the artists,” he said. “That’s just the reality of the situation.”
Even with that drawback, however, “everyone was really excited” to get back to live Gretna music, Kane said.
“It was a strange emotional release to finally have a concert, connecting with people in a way you simply can’t online,” he explained. “Being online is certainly better than having no performance at all. But it’s a very different experience.”
Previous events this summer have been done solely online, sometimes drawing more than 100 viewers.
“They worked out really well,” Kane said. “The main issue with Zoom is my technical ignorance, just figuring out how to do it — so the first one was a little clunky because I didn’t really know what I was doing. By the time we had done a few, though, we had the bugs worked out and they were very successful.”
Besides three music performances, the summer Zoom series included more than a dozen other events, including music and meditation programs, conversations about music and even rebroadcasts of classic concerts from Gretna Music’s past seasons.
“The online highlight was the three live concerts,” he said. “They were the most exciting to do, and the ones that were most enthusiastically received. They were also the ones with the most technical difficulties. There was a steep learning curve.”
The upcoming online series of concerts is tentatively scheduled to begin Oct. 8 and run through December, Kane said. “And then we’re going to re-evaluate … we will most likely continue that through the winter and into the spring.”
Details on future performances can be found online.
“I’m proud of the organization, and the artists, who have worked very hard to get artistic experiences out there,” Kane said. “It’s been a lot of work, but I’m glad that we’ve done it and that we’re going to continue to do it — and that people have supported it.”
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