The New Bedford Symphony Orchestra (NBSO) presented over 130 virtual and in-person concerts and programs between March 20, 2020 and March 21, 2021. These events included a wide range of musical and educational programming featuring the musicians and staff of the orchestra. Musical performances varied widely, including musicians livestreaming from their homes, masked cellists playing in local parks, outdoor concerts at senior housing facilities, and a string quartet performing a drive-in concert at the New Bedford ferry terminal parking lot. In addition, the orchestra presented several online performances recorded on the stage of the Zeiterion Performing Arts Center. All told, the NBSO presented 40 online educational programs, 34 outdoor pop-up concerts, 19 livestream performances, 18 music performance videos, 14 online music talks, four online symphony concerts, three online chamber music concerts, and one drive-in concert.
According to NBSO President and CEO Dave Prentiss, “When Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker declared a state of emergency due to the pandemic last March, traditional symphonic concerts were suddenly no longer viable. Although stunned, we strongly felt the need to do whatever we could to bring music, with its joy and connection, to the community as quickly as we could. Our first livestream performance, Fiddle Time, took place a year ago on March 20. Based on the positive impact of the concert in such a time of confusion and anxiety, we knew we had to keep making music no matter what the challenges were. Our musicians and staff really rose to the occasion.”
NBSO Education Director Terry Wolkowicz also began creating online music programs at no charge for schools and families. The NBSO then converted its Learning in Concert school program to an online format. This year’s program, Bird Flight Patterns and Music, reached over 100 schools in 32 states, and was also supported by dozens of Audubon Society chapters, which provided it to even more schools in their communities.