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How Do You Keep the Music Playing? Boise Phil Goes Virtual

Boise Philharmonic

While some of the world's premiere performing arts organizations hunker down due to the pandemic —even the New York Philharmonic canceled its entire fall season — Idaho's oldest-performing arts organization, the Boise Philharmonic, has unveiled a 2020-21 season of no less less than 27 performances.

But the season, including 85 works by nearly 70 composers, will primarily be showcased on BPO's new online platform: Digital Stage.

"This year has seen the cancellation of countless concerts around the world," said Boise Phil Executive Director Laura Reynolds. "We want to shift the narrative from despair to hope, from loneliness to connection and from artistic void to vitality."

Reynolds visited with Morning Edition host George Prentice to talk about the unique season, which will also include "pop-up" concerts in select neighborhoods in the fall, winter and spring.

“We're excited about all of the flexibility, and about the ways that we're still able to create art in a way that keeps our community and our musicians healthy and safe.”


Read the full transcript:

GEORGE PRENTICE: It's Morning Edition on Boise State Public Radio News. Good morning, I'm George Prentice. The pandemic has unraveled so much of our society's fabric, and the artistic community has been hit very hard. Some organizations have been hobbled, some are fighting for their lives, and some creative artists are being, well, extremely creative. And that brings us to the Boise Philharmonic, Idaho's oldest performing arts organization. And Laura Reynolds is here. Executive Director of the Boise Philharmonic. She joins us live this morning via Zoom. Laura, good morning.

LAURA REYNOLDS: Good morning, George.

PRENTICE: The Philharmonic has announced a new season, the 2020/2021 season of no less than 27 performances. It says here they will be virtual. So how will audiences access these concerts?

Credit Shiva Shafii
Laura Reynolds

REYNOLDS: That's such a great question. And we are so excited to announce this programming because we just have been thinking long and hard about all of the different ways that we can show up for our community right now, and stay creative and keep making music. And the virtual platform was one way that we could really continue to make music and really think about the ways that we could bring the concert hall into your home.

The new digital stage that we've created is part of the Boise Phil app. And we wanted to make this as easy as possible for folks to access. It's a very simple process of signing up online on our website, and you can access the Boise Phil from your computer, from your smart TV. We'll have the app available on the Apple store, Android platforms, Roku and Amazon Fire stick. So really lots of ways in. We're excited about all of the flexibility, and about the ways that we're still able to create art in a way that keeps our community and our musicians healthy and safe.

PRENTICE: I'm most intrigued by what you call pop up concerts in neighborhoods. So paint me a word picture. What might that look like?

REYNOLDS: Right. So we'll have chamber ensembles that will be spread throughout the community four times this year. We'll have these pop up concerts in October, December, March, and May. And each one will have a different theme. In October we're looking at having a program that's called Beethoven for Boise. So the sound of Beethoven all around Boise and the Treasure Valley. In December, we will be doing some programming around giving. So it will be the 12 days of giving. And that's really aimed at how can we give back to our community. And in March and May, we're still planning what those look like, but stay tuned, because again, we're really thinking about these as ways that the Philharmonic can give back and show up for our community and use music as a tool for us to come together and provide some joy and healing and hope throughout this time when so many of us are in the middle of a pandemic and crisis and, yeah.

PRENTICE: So, what kind of venues? Inside, outside?

REYNOLDS: It'll probably be a mixture. We're starting conversations with different community partners across the region. So we'll have more information as we get closer to those dates. So we're looking at outdoor concerts in neighborhoods, but also partnering up with other nonprofits to perform for their program participants and their communities.

PRENTICE: It seems like only yesterday we were talking, when you first took this job, this is still, I guess, your inaugural year with the Philharmonic, but how do you get a sense of Boise in this highly unique situation?

REYNOLDS: I have to say, there is nowhere else I would rather be right now. The community here in Boise and the Treasure Valley has just been the most warm and welcoming place, especially during this crisis. And it is very strange to get to know a city and meet people pretty much all virtually. But I think one of the things that's been so beautiful about this place is that despite all of that, the community here has just welcomed me with open arms. I live downtown, so I get to walk around, and I cycle a lot, so I've got to see all of the amazing trails and have gone riding in the foothills, and it's just a stunning place to live. And so I feel really lucky to be here and I'm really excited about what it is that the Phil will be able to do this year, and what we're going to be able to create. Yeah. I'm just excited to be in this community and excited to start making music again.

PRENTICE: I have to assume that your musicians are more than anxious to perform.

REYNOLDS: Oh, absolutely. I mean, this has been really tough, because we're used to playing for packed houses and connecting with people. And that's really what we do: bring people together. And so to have this opportunity to create again and bring people together in their homes, and really create that connection to music and to each other, that's really at the heart of what we do. And we're excited to get started again.

PRENTICE: She is Laura Reynolds, Executive Director of the Boise Phil. Laura, when is the first concert of the season?

REYNOLDS: Yeah. So our first big concert will be October 10th. So our app launches September 28th. So stay tuned for more information about that. If you go to our website, you can get more information about how to get involved. We have membership levels and subscriptions available starting now. So yeah, boisephil.org is where you can get all of that information.

PRENTICE: And this will fill a pretty big void for so many of us. Stay safe, stay well. And we're really looking forward to the new season.

REYNOLDS: Thank you, George.


Find reporter George Prentice on Twitter @georgepren

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