Live classical music is expected to come back to Akron soon, thanks to a new 133rd season announced Monday by Tuesday Musical.
After nine months of delays announcing a season due to the coronavirus, Akron’s venerable musical presenter will offer a shortened, five-concert subscription season from March through May that will kick off with a concert by bass virtuoso Edgar Meyer March 4 at the University of Akron’s E.J. Thomas Hall.
The hall hasn’t officially reopened yet, but Tuesday Musical’s planned concerts are on the books at E.J. Thomas Hall, said Cynthia Snider, Tuesday Musical’s executive director.
“We’ve grappled with how, when and even if we could again share the joys of live music during these challenging times,” she said. “We realize this is a bold move. But we have built in, we think, so many safety protocols, flexible ticket options, concert cancellation protection.”
Ticket sales, limited to five-concert subscriptions, are being offered to both repeat and new subscribers. Cost is $184 for all five concerts. Unlike in previous seasons, all seats will cost the same.
Tuesday Musical is encouraging concertgoers to subscribe by Jan. 15 in order to lock in the limited seats. Call 330-761-3460 or see www.tuesdaymusical.org.
Tuesday Musical will determine later whether any single tickets will be made available.
In keeping with state law for indoor performance venues, total seating will be limited to 300, with guests socially distanced over all three levels of E.J. Thomas Hall. A maximum of four may sit in each group, with each grouping distanced by empty seats.
“We know some people have had Tuesday Musical seats in their family literally for generations,” Snider said. “If you want to be seated where you’ve always sat, we’ll do our best to accommodate that.”
Tuesday Musical was encouraged by a return-to-concerts survey it conducted in early summer that found 46 percent of respondents would subscribe immediately.
The key for this shortened season will be flexibility, Snider said. If a concert ends up being canceled for any reason or a subscriber decides he or she feels uncomfortable attending, those concert tickets can be applied to another concert this season or transferred free of charge to the following 2021-22 season.
With the concert cancellation protection, Tuesday Musical asks that patrons give the organization a week’s notice, when able, if they will not be attending a concert.
“We’re really going to adapt as we go along and do what we need to do to keep everybody safe,” Snider said. “We’re following all the health protocols that will be in place at the time of these concerts” on the local, state and national levels.
Management for superstar pianist Emanuel Ax asked Tuesday Musical specifics about how the organization will keep artists and audiences safe. Everyone in the hall will be masked and Ax, who will be performing in solo concert, will be given plenty of space, Snider said.
“There will be lots of sanitizers,” said Snider, who said Tuesday Musical will consult with Steinway Hall on sanitizing the organization’s concert grand “Three Graces” piano for Ax.
Last March, Tuesday Musical had contracts for an eight-concert 2020-21 season but waited to announce plans due to coronavirus uncertainty. The season subscription plan went through many revisions over the months as some of those artists canceled, resulting in a five-concert season, Snider said.
Here’s the breakdown for the upcoming season.
• Meyer, new to the Tuesday Musical stage, will drive from his home in Nashville to perform at 7:30 p.m. March 4 at E.J. Thomas Hall. His intimate solo concert will span classical to bluegrass.
The bass master is well known for making his instrument as expressive as a cello or bouncing like a bluegrass band. He also has famously teamed with Yo-Yo Ma for Not Our First Goat Rodeo, which was slated to perform for the Blossom Music Festival in August but canceled due to coronavirus.
Meyer’s Tuesday Musical program will include Bach’s beloved Cello Suite No. 1 as well as his own work in progress for unaccompanied bass.
• Pianist Ax, one of the most celebrated musicians of our time, will perform in solo concert at 7:30 p.m. March 25. The Polish-American pianist, known as “Manny,” will perform works by Chopin, Brahms and more for Tuesday Musical’s Margaret Baxtresser Annual Piano Concert. He has performed in Akron twice before, the last time in 2012.
Ax has performed in Northeast Ohio in recent months: He played Haydn’s Piano Concerto in D major with the Cleveland Orchestra, without an audience at Severance Hall, filmed in late October and streamed on Adella in November.
• The “orchestra of voices” that is Chanticleer will perform at 7:30 p.m. April 20, with selections ranging from Renaissance to jazz and gospel to new music. The world-renowned American a cappella group is comprised of 12 male singers.
The popular group has performed with Tuesday Musical four times previously, the last time in 2009.
Chanticleer originally was scheduled to do a whole day of education with UA choral students, but those plans were canceled after the university announced that its last two weeks of spring semester classes will be remote after spring break.
• Pacifica Quartet will join forces with Anthony McGill, principal clarinetist of the New York Philharmonic, at 7:30 p.m. May 4. Both string quartet Pacifica and McGill will be making their Tuesday Musical debuts with works by Brahms and more.
The award-winning Pacifica chamber ensemble, which formed 26 years ago, is quartet in residence at Indiana University’s Jacobs School of Music. McGill, the New York Philharmonic’s first African-American principal player, is an advocate for helping music education reach underserved communities and for addressing issues of diversity, equity and inclusion in classical music.
• Sphinx Virtuosi will perform at 7:30 p.m. May 26. The chamber orchestra, which features top Black and Latinx musicians from around the country, last performed with Tuesday Musical in 2009.
About 20 musicians are expected to perform the program “Land of the Free,” which pairs favorites including Barber’s Adagio for Strings and Dvorak’s American Quartet with new works by Xavier Foley and Jessie Montgomery.
Arts writer Kerry Clawson may be reached at 330-996-3527 or email@example.com.