The Springfield Symphony Youth Orchestras (SSYO) launched it’s 2021-2022 season with a live-streamed performance on Sunday, November 21, at Robyn Newhouse Hall at the Community Music School of Springfield. It had been 651 days since their last performance.
The two ensembles that make up the SSYO—the Springfield Youth Sinfonia (SYS) and the Springfield Youth Orchestra (SYO)—started rehearsing together, in person, for this season right after Labor Day. Obviously, there were some changes to how rehearsals ran including needing to find a new rehearsal space (THANK YOU Community Music School of Springfield and Eileen McCaffery) and only allowing musicians, SSYO staff, and a handful of rotating parent volunteers in the building. Of course, everyone always remained masked (except winds and brass players when they were actually playing) in addition to a vaccine requirement. Lots and lots of hand sanitizer and puppy pads to collect spit/water from brass instruments as well—things one never imagined needing to run a successful and safe rehearsal. And yet here we are. The tuning A at the first rehearsal was definitely accompanied by sniffles of joy behind masks and hyper-awareness of being indoors with others after a long time alone at home.
Even though the Season Premiere Concert was live-streamed, the beauty of the music, the energy that every musician put out had clearly been building up during what I now call “the great silence” of the pandemic, and these musicians let loose and PLAYED their hearts out. SYS and Marsha Hassett opened the show (with SYO as their audience) with a cathartic fervor that was palpable through the internet. Then the ensembles swapped places and Jonathan Lam led the SYO through their thunderous repertoire; you could tell that everyone was just having FUN. SYO soloist Jiyu Moon, performing Haydn’s Cello Concerto in C that was originally scheduled for May 2020, played with a passion that as so clear to the listener that she never slowed down during “the great silence.” It’s so great to be back, indeed.
We continue to experience many challenges due to the ongoing pandemic, but our young musicians, though fewer in number, are giving their all as we attempt to rebuild and move forward. The students and their families deserve a great deal of credit for making the SSYO viable again—as without them, these beautiful moments would not exist. The musicians should be proud of the work they have accomplished, and I know they’re all looking forward to gathering again when rehearsals for the Winter Concert (scheduled for February 13, 2022) begin again!