Indianapolis — An upcoming concert may be music to your ears, in more ways than one. For the first time in a year, the Indianapolis Chamber Orchestra will take the stage for an indoor performance with an audience.
The concert called Happy Birthday Mozart starts at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, January 30 at Clowes Memorial Hall.
Such a show is rare these days. And they are missed.
"There are many people I know personally that are hungry to come back in," said ICO Music Director and Principal Conductor, Matthew Kraemer. "As long as it's safe, as long as we follow all protocol, are very eager to come back and experience the community aspect of a concert and to get out of their living room."
Many COVID-19 precautions will be in place for the event. That includes a change of venue. Usually, the Schrott Center for the Arts is the orchestra's home. This season, most performances will be in the much larger Clowes.
ICO Executive Director Dana Stone says for Saturday's show, the goal is to have an audience of 200. That is less than 10% capacity.
There will also be no intermission, so audiences can enter and exit once, digital tickets and programs, as well as social distancing and masks worn off and on stage -- for the most part. Woodwind and brass musicians who cannot play masked will have plexiglass dividers.
While Mozart marks the start of the new ICO season, it is not the first performance since the pandemic forced the cancellation of most shows last year. The orchestra put on virtual shows with no audience and an outdoor concert, for free.
"We decided to present them at no cost because we wanted to reach more of the public. We didn't want any barrier to experiencing music at this time," said Stone. "It’s been a challenging time for everyone, so to be able to present and invite more people into the beautiful music of the ICO was an opportunity we wanted to capitalize on."
Kraemer says while those performances created a sense of joy and relief among musicians, nothing compares to playing in front of a crowd. "With no audience, it's as surreal as you can imagine. You finish playing a piece, you have this exhilaration of a job well done, and you turn around and there's silence coming from the hall."
While the ICO plans on offering in-person performances for the rest of the season, watching the concerts virtually will also be an option. "We want to continue presenting online because there are people that cannot come. That are not healthy enough to take any sort of risk and we respect that, and we also understand that those people need access to music maybe more than the ones that can come," said Stone.
No matter how you watch Happy Birthday Mozart, Kraemer predicts it will be an exuberant experience.
"I just think Mozart, the youthfulness, the brilliance, the passion for life, it's certainly music that I think speaks to a lot of people who will be coming into the concert hall for the very first time in a long time to hear us," Kraemer said. "But also those tuning in virtually, I think this is music of great passion and joy."
And if you are not a fan of classical music, do not dismiss the ICO.
"We've done a musical in concert, we've done music of the golden age of Hollywood film composers, we've collaborated with almost every organization in the city," Kraemer said. "So if there's a program that might not particularly appeal to you, just look to the next month."
To learn more about everything the Indianapolis Chamber Orchestra has to offer, and to purchase in-person or virtual tickets to Happy Birthday Mozart, go to icomusic.org.