Music

Skagit Symphony Orchestra

Stream-a-Thon

Wednesday, October 21, 2020

Without venues in which to perform—but still harboring a strong desire to play for their friends and fans—musicians in groups of all sizes, from solo practitioners right on up to full orchestras, have had to be creative when it comes to not only their music, but also how they get it to the masses. Or as the Skagit Symphony Orchestra describes it, “dynamic” in creating “new ways to connect with each other and the community.”

Like so many others, they’ve turned to the internet to get the job done, given themselves a crash course in the processes and procedures involved in streaming, and have faced the realities of our current COVID reality ready and willing to harness their most “dynamic” selves in order to adapt.

Whereas many organizations of their ilk have also embraced streaming, with online schedules that mirror somewhat their plans for the 2020/2021 season prior to the pandemic, Skagit Symphony Orchestra’s approach was somewhat different. They opted to release a bunch of concerts at once in an online event that also doubled as a much-needed fundraiser for the artistic organization.

And so their inaugural Stream-a-Thon was born.

It began at 7pm Thurs., Oct. 15 with the third of its four parts (the fourth installment is yet to come) wrapping up Sat., Oct. 17. Each night was focused on a particular theme, with concerts being augmented by interviews with guest artists, chamber ensembles and testimonials of support from symphony supporters.

The theme for the Stream-a-Thon’s kickoff concert was “community,” music by J.S. Bach and Michael Haydn was on the program, and cellist Jennifer Higgins Wagner was tapped to play with the accomplished musicians of the Skagit Symphony. The following evening focused on “contribution,” with the New Millennium Orchestra and pianist Sandra Wright Shen as the honored guests, and pieces by Gustav Holst, George Gershwin, and Ludwig van Beethoven on the musical menu. The final night’s program—for now—was devoted to “enrichment,” with Ludwig van Beethoven and Eugene Ysaye on the roster of composers, and violinist Kinga Augustyn joining in the joyful noise with the symphony.

The final Stream-a-Thon installment will honor “inspiration” and will feature the Skagit Symphony’s beloved education program as well as Conductor Emeritus Roupen Shakarian. The date for what will no doubt be a popular night of music is forthcoming.

Why am I telling you about an event after three-quarters of it has already happened?

My reasons are twofold. First, if you were not able to catch the prerecorded concerts and the special features that came along with them when they were released, they remain available for streaming on the Skagit Symphony Orchestra’s website for the foreseeable future. Second—and this piece is important—as the Stream-a-Thon is both entertainment and a necessary fundraiser for the symphony, you can still send a donation their way to thank them for the privilege of being able to partake of such stellar entertainment without ever leaving the comfort of your home. Even better, thanks to the generosity of symphony supporters, all Stream-a-Thon donations through Sun., Oct. 25 will be matched up to $10,000. I need not remind anyone what a tough spot arts organizations are in right now—but here I am, reminding you anyway.

With entertainment options still thin on the ground for now and the foreseeable future, something like the Skagit Symphony Orchestra’s Stream-a-Thon is more than just a fundraiser. It’s a reminder of culture that we treasure and the people who work so hard to bring it to us. It’s the sound of normalcy in abnormal times.

For more info about the Skagit Symphony Orchestra and the Stream-a-Thon, see: http://www.skagitsymphony.com

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