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SEK Symphony delivers “Concert of Hope”

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused many adjustments to events, prompting the Southeast Kansas Symphony at Pittsburg State University to deliver a virtual concert rather than a concert in person, entitled a “Concert of Hope.” 

On Oct. 20, 2020, the “Concert of Hope” was streamed on both Facebook Live and Vimeo at 7:30 p.m. The concert featured six selections prepared with the concert’s theme in mind. The concert’s selections included “Nimrod” from Edward Elgar’s Enigma Variations, “Ashokan Farewell,” popularized by the documentary series The Civil War, themes from the film “Cinema Paradiso” by Ennio Morricone, “Corral Nocturne” from Aaron Copland’s ballet “Rodeo,” “Juventud Sampedrana” by Benjamin Acevedo, and “Por Una Cabeza” arranged by Marc Garetto. 

“We are glad you are here with us,” said Raul Munguia, professor of violin and director of the Southeast Kansas Symphony at Pittsburg State University. “First of all, we hope you and your loved ones are doing great as we navigate together this difficult year. This would have been our opening night concert… A true celebration with many of you. Family, friends, season subscribers, donors, sponsors, all in the same room connected with each other. Instead our concert halls are empty, and to be really honest, it is not a great feeling. I know that soon we’re going to be back sharing our music with all of you here together in our own Bicknell Family Center for the Arts but as we now share our performance with you virtually, I hope that we can contribute a little to help you in these difficult times our community, our nation, and the whole world is going through… Maybe we can give you a spark of joy to fill up your soul to help you forget a little bit about this pandemic.” 

The original plan for this concert was to hold an outdoor concert to better mitigate the spread of COVID-19 but university regulations did not allow for that, despite the change in venue making the concert plan safer. 

“As many of you know, this concert would have been held outdoors with a fun and entertaining program of Americana, movie soundtracks, and great classical works,” Munguia said. “Today, we present to you five selections that we hope you will enjoy…” 

The concert required performers to video tape their individual parts and send in for an audio and video engineer to put together into a streamable package. The performers included both current Pittsburg State students as well as alumni from throughout the world. 

“All musicians will record their parts from their dorm rooms, practice rooms, and homes, to deliver a one-of-a-kind virtual experience for the audience,” Munguia said. “We invite everyone near and far to tune in.” 

Students gave brief introductions to pieces as they came up in the program, explaining some of the history of the works as well as giving musical information about the pieces. Munguia introduced the last piece on the program, “Nimrod”, to point out the presence of the alumni he invited to perform with the orchestra. 

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