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Chattanooga Symphony and Opera Postpones Original 2020/21 Season Lineup, Announces Plans For the Year

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Chattanooga Symphony and Opera Postpones Original 2020/21 Season Lineup, Announces Plans For the Year

The Chattanooga Symphony and Opera has announced its plans for the 2020/21 season.

The 2020/21 season as originally planned will be postponed to the 2021/22 season. It is the hope of Executive Director Samantha Teter that most programs will be able to be moved to the following season. "We are currently working with our guest artists who were originally scheduled to perform in our 2020/21 season to move them to new dates in the 2021/22 season. The original 2020/21 season offered a variety of fabulous programming and world-class performers, and we want to keep that intact as much as possible."

Instead, the CSO will be performing smaller concerts with fewer musicians and significantly smaller audiences. "Depending upon the severity of the pandemic at the time of each scheduled concert, we anticipate having 20 or less musicians perform on a concert, with 100 or less audience members present. However, we will be offering 2 or 3 performances for most programs, as well as offering several live-stream/recorded opportunities for patrons to view online."

While the schedule is being worked out, we will be working with current subscribers to offer access to these live concerts. Once subscribers have been allocated to performances, there may be an opportunity for more of the public to attend as well. In addition, some live, free performances will be offered on a reservation basis to the public. "It is important to us that we keep our musicians, staff, and patrons safe. So, we will be instituting several safety protocols, such as mask-wearing, socially distanced seating for musicians and the audience, and open-air venues during warmer months," states Teter.

Kayoko Dan, Music Director, has been working on new repertoire to offer at these condensed performances. "As we all wish things were back to normal and we'd be able to present the 2020/21 season as planned, we had to make significant changes to our programming and concert formats to protect our musicians, staff, and our loyal patrons. We are working on constructing programs that will highlight every single musician of the CSO with works with smaller instrumentations to allow social distancing on stage. While it is challenging to construct, I find it to be an opportunity for the CSO to perform works and present musicians in ways that we normally do not get to in non-pandemic situations. I am looking forward to exploring diverse, interesting, and some new-to-me works this season, as well as ensembles such as brass quintet and percussion trio, which we rarely present. We are also looking forward to presenting our programs to different parts of our community."

Don McDowell, CSO Board Chair, states, "Live symphonic performances allow listeners to suspend the commonplace and experience possibilities. During these challenging times, the CSO believes it is imperative that we continue to serve the community with unique, compact offerings of live music that allow patrons and donors to be inspired so they can be the best versions of themselves."

CSO leadership has been working with Tri-State Musician's Union, AFM Local 80 on creating a new collective bargaining agreement specifically for the unique challenges of the 2020/21 season. This new CBA guarantees services and pay for 66% of regular services for all contract musicians, along with several health and safety guidelines to keep musicians safe. "The musicians of the CSO are pleased that we were able to collaborate with CSO leadership to get back on stage safely this season. This won't be a typical season, but we all found it important to get creative and modify how we do things this year in order to get live music to our community," stated Joey Demko, CSO horn player and Negotiation Committee Chair for the Tri-State Musician's Union, AFM Local 80.

More details about concert dates and programming will be released in early August. Live-streams and recorded online content will be offered to the public at a small fee. "We look forward to continuing to serve our community with live orchestral music in the safest way possible," says Teter.

For the latest on changes due to COVID-19, visit

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