Springfield youth orchestras, children’s chorus persist during pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic hasn’t stopped, but neither has the music for one Springfield-based youth group.

The Springfield Symphony Orchestra’s Youth Orchestras and Children’s Chorus have adapted to the times to continue pursuing their musical ambitions. Although their annual fall concert was recently canceled, their talent will soon be on display for an even wider audience.

The three orchestras and children’s chorus recently recorded what they would’ve performed live at the gym in the John Legend Theater building for a virtual concert experience that will be available on the Symphony’s website starting Dec. 12. Considering where the program came from, moving from its normal August start to late September, the persistence is paying off.

“There were doubts all through the summer, but we were also very hopeful,” said Symphony Education and Operations Manager Axl Pons.

The program is important as it helps students who are homeschooled or whose schools don’t have music programs to fulfill their needs. Participants come from not just Clark County but surrounding counties as far as Montgomery and Franklin.

Considering the times, Pons is pleased the program only took a minor hit on its numbers, with 82-85 musicians and chorus members, down from 97 a year ago. Pons said some parents were concerned and measures were taken to respond.

Safety became as important as hitting the right notes. Steps were taken to socially distance, plenty of hand sanitizer was purchased and clear shields were used for the woodwind players and brass players during the group’s shortened rehearsals. Pons credits staff at the Legend Theater for their support.

Some students even opted to do their rehearsals on Zoom, which still allowed participation.

The fall concert is traditionally a showcase of the work the students have put in in a few short months, while the spring concert is a more well-rounded version of their overall experience. Pons said Symphony staff will be making more adjustments in the coming months depending on circumstances regarding health and safety, but the enthusiasm remains high for the new year and possibility of a live spring concert.

“We’re optimistic. The number one thing is to make sure the kids are safe, but we hope to bring the arts back,” said Pons. “We have supportive parents and staff.”

Check the Springfield Symphony Orchestra’s website to view the virtual concert.

About the Author