Topeka Symphony opens new season with all musicians wearing masks

Local News

TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNT) – Musicians with the Topeka Symphony Orchestra worried of a day when they would not have the opportunity to perform on stage due to the coronavirus pandemic.

But on Saturday, their worries were avoided. The group performed their season-opening concert as part of the symphony’s 75th anniversary at the Topeka Performing Arts Center.

“All of my concerts were canceled,” Regina Tanujaya said, pianist for the symphony. “Looking at the news, how the pandemic is getting worse. We worry a lot about when the next live performance will happen.”

When the pandemic struck, many symphony’s were forced to postpone or completely cancel the season. However, Topeka’s symphony knew the show must go on.

“It was just a relief,” said Bob Keckeisen, executive director and percussionist for the symphony. “It was the best thing that’s happened during the pandemic so far. It’s like, ‘Yay, we’re back to rehearsing and performing.'”

Every musician and attendee wore a mask during the performance, even those who played a wind instrument. The musicians also had their own music stands so they could stay six feet apart.

The symphony performed four pieces:

  • Dvorak’s “Serenade for Strings”
  • Wagner’s “Siegried Idyll”
  • Stravinsky’s “Dumbarton Oaks” Concerto
  • Saint-Saens’ “Carnival of the Animals”

The tickets for the concert were limited so attendees were able to be socially distant. In an effort to make the music accessible to more people, the symphony live-streamed the performance for season pass holders. The live stream is available for 72 hours following the performance.

“This actually is a big step for classical music for those who don’t like or would rather sleep in the evenings,” said Charles Tsui, a pianist for the symphony. “They can watch it anytime, anywhere, even in your house.”

The symphony’s next performance is scheduled for Nov. 14. The musicians recommend people see it in-person if they have the opportunity.

“There’s nothing like hearing a live symphony orchestra,” said Keckeisen. “Sitting in a hall, it just almost transports you. There’s something about live music that you just don’t get anywhere else.”

The next performance will celebrate the 250th anniversary of Beethoven’s birth.

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