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SEK Symphony moves concert to virtual format

The Southeast Kansas Symphony at Pittsburg State University has cancelled their in-person outdoor concert in favor of a virtual concert. 

The SEK Symphony, under the direction of professor of music Raúl Munguía, originally planned to hold an outdoor performance at the Bicknell Family Center for the Arts. However, due to weather concerns, has modified their delivery format like many orchestras around the world and still provide a performance to both students and the Pittsburg community. 

“I presented about two or three different options to the students about how we can perform, and they thought the virtual performance was the best option,” Munguía said. “Each student will record their own parts and then the concert will be put together by both a sound engineer and a post-production engineer…” 

The concert, scheduled for broadcast in mid to late October, features music including “Nimrod” from the Enigma Variations by Edward Elgar, Honduran chamber music piece “Juventude,” “Ashokan Farewell” made famous by the PBS miniseries “The Civil War,” and two movements from Aaron Copland’s “Appalachian Spring.”  

Munguía said he wanted the concert to be filled with more popular music to provide “stress relief” as one of the first performances after returning to campus. 

“It’s going to be an event,” Munguía said. “What the students are going through no one has gone through before. It’s a moment of solidarity. The students come here for a world class education and we cannot give them 100% of that right now… We just want to give them some sort of performance opportunity.” 

Munguía also said that while the virtual format isn’t exactly what he or the students had planned, the virtual orchestra formatting will be a “great teaching tool” for students. 

“It creates a lot of anxiety for musicians recording themselves but it’s a great way to learn,” Munguía said. “For the majority of my students, that will be a brand-new experience… It’s going to be an experience and it’s going to be presented as an actual concert and not a series of tracks…” 

Munguía said that the student response to the move as been positive. 

“I think students have been very responsive to this move,” Munguía said. “They really like the idea. The fact that they will be responsible for their own part is a great move…” 

Munguía wanted to use the concert as a way to welcome the community back to campus. 

“I wanted to use this concert to relax,” Munguía said. “Outdoors would have been the best option, but things have not gone the way we wanted… I want the audience to experience a symphony concert just the same way they have in the middle of this pandemic. Many ensembles around the world are doing this kind of method…” 

Edith Sigler, co-concertmaster for the symphony and senior in music, expressed regret that the outdoor concert date was cancelled but also expressed positivity towards the adjustment in delivery method. 

“I’m sad because we had a lot of great repertoire and it was going to be outside, but I think moving it virtually will be a good experience overall for the orchestra..,” Sigler said.  

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