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Classical 101

McConnell Arts Center Chamber Orchestra Performs Free Outdoor Concerts Saturday

color photo of Antoine Clark conducting onstage at the MAC
Jennifer Hambrick
WOSU Public Media
Antoine Clark, founding artistic and music director of the McConnell Arts Center Chamber Orchestra

Last spring, the coronavirus pandemic forced the McConnell Arts Center Chamber Orchestra’s 2019-20 season to a premature close. This Saturday the orchestra launches its 2020-21 concert season with two outdoor performances, as the McConnell Arts Center increases its offerings of art classes and opens a new gallery exhibition.

In physically distanced chamber ensembles of 10-12 players, the musicians of the McConnell Arts Center Chamber Orchestra (MACCO) will perform concerts on the lawn of the McConnell Arts Center (MAC) in Worthington Saturday, Sept. 12 at 3 p.m. and 5 p.m. Tickets are free, registration is required and the audience will be limited to 150 people at each performance.

Although Saturday’s 3 p.m. concert is now at capacity, reservations are still available for the 5 p.m. performance.

“People really want to hear us,” said Antoine Clark, founding artistic and music director of the McConnell Arts Center Chamber Orchestra. “They’re really craving this.”

Audience members at both performances will be required to wear masks, and seating on the lawn of the MAC will be socially distanced. The MACCO musicians also will be socially distanced onstage and will wear masks.

“The strings will always keep them on. The winds will only take them off when they’re playing,” said Clark.

Saturday’s performances will raise funds to support MACCO’s 2020-21 concert season and will feature highlights from the programs for those concerts. Season repertoire includes well-known chamber music masterworks and works by women composers and composers of color.

Showcased on Saturday’s concerts are Florence B. Price’s Adoration in a new chamber ensemble arrangement commissioned by MACCO, Pastorale by Julia Perry, the Nonete in Eb by French composer Louise Farrenc and selections from Brahms’ Serenade No. 1 in D.

Each of the three 2020-21 MACCO season concerts will be presented with in-person and virtual options.

“The 2020-21 season for the McConnell Arts Center Chamber Orchestra will be quite different than any of our past seven seasons,” said Clark. “We want to be safe, we want to be sure to follow all the guidelines that are laid out by the City and the Health Department. So in order to stay connected to our community and to still provide quality entertainment, we’ve decided to have a hybrid season.”

Chamber ensembles will be socially distanced onstage in the MAC’s Bronwynn Theatre. A maximum of 34 people will be permitted to attend each concert in-person in the theater, and all of the concerts will be livestreamed on the McConnell Arts Center’s YouTube channel.

This Saturday also marks the opening of the MAC gallery’s new exhibition of works by noted Columbus-based origami artist Yasue Sakaoka. The exhibition will feature some of Sakaoka’s older works and the debut of her most recent series, commissioned by the Greater Columbus Arts Council.

Beyond the Sept. 12 concert this fall the MAC will also offer art classes for the first time since the mid-March pandemic lockdown. The center will continue the outdoor workshops and plein air painting classes it offered during the summer and will also include online visual art classes. In-person classes, with reduced numbers of socially distanced participants, will take place in the MAC’s painting and drawing room and ceramics lab.

“Sept. 12 is a concert to reopen the chamber orchestra season, an open house so people can see our new  exhibition in the gallery and the following week we’re going to see the return of a schedule of classes for the first time since March,” said Erin Blue, executive director of the McConnell Arts Center.

“It really is becoming a reopening for all of the different areas of bringing the arts to our community.”

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Jennifer Hambrick unites her extensive backgrounds in the arts and media and her deep roots in Columbus to bring inspiring music to central Ohio as Classical 101’s midday host. Jennifer performed with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and the Civic Orchestra of Chicago before earning a Ph.D. in musicology from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.