The Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra ended its 108th season last May by streaming past concerts, previously unreleased recordings, and new educational programs. The musicians have not performed together since the COVID-19 outbreak brought concerts to a halt in March. A recently announced July 4th concert, America Strong, aims to “bring hope and healing to our community during these challenging times” and to restore a bit of the live music experience that orchestra fans have been missing.
The prerecorded concert was held inside Dickies Arena, and FWSO musicians (along with guest performances from Fort Worth Opera, the Van Cliburn Foundation, and Texas Ballet Theater) were spaced to follow social distancing guidelines. The program will reflect the “cultural fabric of this country” and features Black composers William Christopher Handy, Scott Joplin, and James Weldon Johnson.
FWSO CEO Keith Cerny said the concert’s central theme will unify.
“This is symbolically important for the orchestra and staff,” he said. “It has been three months since the musicians have performed. This is a very inspiring moment because we love bringing music to the community.”
Cerny said his team has closely followed the national and local protests that arose following the murder of George Floyd, a Black man, by a white police officer last month. Orchestra musicians have been given the option of wearing pins that read, “Black Lives Matter.” Cerny said the idea was “very popular” with the performers. As the FWSO plans for the future, Cerny said diversity, both in terms of guest artists and repertoire, will play a prominent role in the orchestra’s decisions.
Cerny said the FWSO plans to resume performances in Bass Performance Hall this fall. He is working closely with Bass Hall and union representatives to ensure that concerts resume safely. The search for a new music director — conductor Miguel Harth-Bedoya recently stepped down after 20 years — has been put on hold due to COVID-19, he added.
“Miguel has done remarkable work, and we are looking forward to working with him in a reduced but important role as music director laureate,” Cerny said.
America Strong will be livestreamed at 9pm on Saturday, July 4, via WFAA. The concert will then be available for viewing for two weeks at Fwsymphony.org.