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Zlatomir Fung

ARTICLE: La Jolla Music Society Pivots to Hybrid of Public Outdoor Concerts and Audience-Free Indoor Livestreams

The San Diego Union Tribune

George Varga
March 18, 2021

As COVID-19 restrictions ease and San Diego shifts from purple to red tier, a new chapter looms with intimate, socially distanced chamber-music performances in the Wu Tsai QRT.yrd of The Conrad Prebys Performing Arts Center.

Change is in the air at La Jolla Music Society, which is wasting no time returning to live public concerts as San Diego County begins to ease some COVID-19 restrictions.

Barely one month after announcing all nine of its February through June concerts at the Conrad Prebys Performing Arts Center would become livestream-only affairs, without an audience, the society is shifting gears. The 52-year-old non-profit is today announcing that six new concerts will be held in the center’s Wu Tsai Courtyard — two each in April, May and June — with plans in place to add more courtyard performances in the coming months.

The six outdoor concerts by such internationally celebrated artists as cellist Alisa Weilerstein, violinist Philippe Quint and pianist Yefim Bronfman will be in addition to their already announced livestreamed concerts here. The hybrid of ticketed public outdoor performances, all with reduced seating capacities, and audience-free indoor livestreams is a new template for the society until county and state health officials approve the resumption of indoor concerts.

The initial six courtyard concerts will have a seating capacity of 98 each. Seats will be in pods of two, with each pair of seats placed 6 feet from the other pairs. Concert patrons will be required to wear masks throughout each one-hour concert.

“Artistically speaking, it was vital for us to remain optimistic we could resume live concerts,” said Leah Rosenthal, the society’s artistic director. “We made a commitment to continue to create various scenarios and contingency plans, so that we could easily pivot and make announcements like we are now with the courtyard concerts.”

Todd Schultz, who in January became the society’s new CEO and president, praised Rosenthal for being ahead of the curve in anticipating a return to live outdoor concerts.

“When we announced in February that all our remaining 2020/2021 season concerts would pivot to livestream only, we actually knew we were going to try to do these courtyard performances, provided the county health restrictions were lifted in time. We are thrilled we are now in the red tier, which allows us to have these courtyard performances.

“We are making alternate plans for this summer to do indoor concerts if if we are able. We also know that, if we can go indoors later this summer, it very well still could have limited (audience) capacity. But moving back indoors would be the ideal scenario for us.”

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