ASHLAND — The Ashland Symphony Orchestra is preparing its return to the stage after canceling shows through 2020 and using the season to find a new conductor and reimagining how it operates.
The 52nd season, dubbed “Reimagined,” opens Sept. 18 and concludes after six total shows on April 23, 2022.
Martha Buckner, executive director of the ASO, said the orchestra hasn’t performed shows since March 2020 and pivoted to make this year successful, even if COVID-19 rears its ugly head again to hamper live gatherings.
“That’s why we called it ‘Reimagined,’” she said, adding the orchestra now includes matinee shows at 3 p.m., as well as 7:30 p.m. concerts.
“So if, for some reason, we’re forced to reduce the audience capacity because of a COVID flare-up, we’re still able to accommodate as large an audience as possible by having two performances,” Buckner said.
ASO will also offer a streaming service, for which the organization will sell tickets.
“We’ll release those on the following Friday and it will stream for 30 days,” she said. “If you don’t feel well, we don’t want you to come. So this allows you to convert a ticket into a streaming option. It’s another way of reaching a wider audience.”
Tom Reed, 59, of Ashland serves as ASO’s principal clarinet player. He also teaches music at Ashland University. The musician is excited to get back on stage.
“We really missed making music and playing for audiences, working with our colleagues,” he said. Reed also serves on the search committee for a new conductor.
“We chose them from a large pool. So I’m really looking forward to working with five really fine conductors,” Reed said.
The candidates include Darwin Aquino, Yaniv Segal, Michael Repper, Raphael Jimenez and Isaac Selya. The ASO’s search committee narrowed them down from a pool of 128 candidates, Buckner said.
Each candidate will conduct a different show, Buckner said, and members from the search committee will observe rehearsals. After each performance, the audience and musicians will be surveyed. The committee will announce the new conductor at the end of the season.
Whoever is chosen will replace Arie Lipsky, who joined ASO in 1996. He retired prior to the 2019 season because of health reasons, Buckner said.
The 52nd season schedule is below, which was announced July 6. Each concert will be performed at the Robert M. and Janet L. Archer Auditorium at 3 and 7:30 p.m. on show dates.
• Sept. 18: “Fidelio: Overture” by Ludwig van Beethoven; “Violin Concerto, No.1, G minor” by Max Bruch with David Halen, Concertmaster of the Saint Luis Symphony; “Lunga Pademia” by Darwin Aquino. Performance conducted by Darwin Aquino.
• Oct. 30: “Violoncello Concerto in D major” by Luigi Boccherini, performed by Mark Kosower, Principal Cellist of Cleveland Orchestra; “Transcendental Variations” by George Rochberg; “Pictures at an Exhibition” by Modest Mussorgsky, arranged by Yaniv Segal. Performance conducted by Yaniv Segal.
• Nov. 28: Family Holiday Pops, featuring traditional carols and holiday favorites. Conductor to be announced.
• Jan. 22: “Symphony No. 83, G minor (The Hen)” by Haydn and Joan Tower’s “Made in America.” Michael Repper will conduct from the piano as he is accompanied by the orchestra for “Rhapsody in Blue” by George Gershwin, arranged by Iain Farrington.
• March 12: “Quiet City” by Aaron Copeland; “Impressions” by Clarice Assad; “Symphony No. 5, B-flat major” by Franz Schubert. Performance conducted by Raphael Jimenez.
• April 23: “The Hebrides: Overture” by Felix Mendelssohn; “Symphony No. 25, C major” by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky and “Symphony No. 25, G minor” by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. Performance conducted by Isaac Selya.
For more information, visit ASO’s website.