The Natchitoches Northwestern Symphony Society has announced the opening of its 2020-2021 season that will begin Tuesday, Sept. 22 at 7:30 p.m. at Magale Recital Hall on the NSU Campus.

Last season ended abruptly in March due to the global COVID-19 pandemic. After considerable organization and planning, Symphony Board president Tony Smith, Music Director Doug Bakenhus, and CAPA Director Scott Burrell have forged a workable, responsible, and exciting return of the symphony for another season that complies with the University’s COVID-19 restrictions.

“For this season, we have chosen more chamber music and smaller orchestral compositions and temporarily set aside the full-orchestra masterworks to better socially distance the musicians when on stage,” said Symphony Music Director, Dr. Doug Bakenhus. “There is a treasure trove of classical music for smaller ensembles that we can showcase this season that fits well into our priority concern for both musicians and patrons.”

To maximize safety concerns, CAPA Director Scott Burrell stated that Magale Recital Hall is now capped at 72 persons with only single seats available that are 6 feet apart.

“To accommodate students and the public, each concert will have two consecutive evening performance dates; the first reserved exclusively for the students and the second for the public,” said Burrell. “This will eliminate any competition between students and the public to attend a single performance.”

Symphony President Tony Smith acknowledges the impact these changes will have on the new season, but he and the Board are committed to do the best it can to get the symphony beyond the pandemic and adapt to any changes that may need to become permanent.

“Our organization is no different from any other in this respect,“ says Smith, “and everyone is doing their best to adapt to the current situation and keep moving forward.”

When asked about changes in operations for the symphony season, Smith stated that since attendance is capped at 72, those wanting to purchase tickets at the door are requested to arrive early to be placed on the waiting list.

Season ticket holders are requested to make their reservations by calling the CAPA Office at 318-357-4522; however, reservations will be released if not claimed by 7:20 p.m. on any season concert night. Patrons may also attend the concert from the comfort of their homes via livestreaming by visiting the night of the concert. Of course, all patrons attending must be masked.

“We are aware of the impact these restrictions will have on season ticket holders, but we are encouraging all patrons, now more than ever, to become season ticket holders as a vote of encouragement and confidence for NSU and the Symphony,“ says Smith. “Despite this changing landscape, one thing has not changed — the Symphony’s mission to foster and support gifted NSU student musicians through the many scholarships it provides each year.”

The 2020-2021 Symphony season will start Tuesday, Sept. 22 at 7:30 p.m. at Magale Recital Hall on the NSU Campus. This opening concert is dedicated to the late Mrs. Pat Thomas, Natchitoches Northwestern Symphony Society President for the 2019-2020 season, who died suddenly last March after a brief illness. She was a tireless life-long supporter and leader of the Natchitoches Northwestern Symphony Society as well as many of Natchitoches’s cultural and philanthropic organizations. In tribute, Maestro Douglas Bakenhus will conduct “Rest” by Louisiana-born composer Frank Ticheli and Haydn’s Symphony #45, “The Farewell Symphony.” Tickets are $15 at door. Season tickets can be purchased by calling 318-352-8055. For immediate updates on the Natchitoches Northwestern Symphony, join the Symphony’s Facebook page.

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