With live music performances prohibited due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Los Angeles Philharmonic orchestrated a free online streaming series called “Sound/Stage.” The series, launched Sept. 25, includes nine prerecorded concerts filmed at the empty Hollywood Bowl.
With the release of the virtual concerts, the Cal Poly Pomona music community found harmony in streaming the free episodes from home.
Jacquelyn Nguyen, a fourth-year music student, explained that the “Sound/Stage” series can be a promising solution for students looking to de-stress during the pandemic.
“I believe that this series can be a stress reliever for everyone,” Nguyen said. “Being able to watch this series for free is a blessing because it goes to show that they don’t care just about the money but about the community and uplifting our spirits, even if it’s through a computer screen.”
Prior to its online shift, the Hollywood Bowl anticipated cancelling its summer season for the first time in its 98-year history to protect audiences, artists and employees from the spread of the virus.
CPP music professor Michael Millar was not surprised by the orchestra’s virtual transition.
“People need music; it’s part of our DNA,” Millar said. “I’m glad that the LA Phil was able to continue their summer season, even if it is online. LA Phil has always been at the forefront of the music community, and I hope this series will inspire others to keep moving forward in these difficult times.”
According to Millar, a handful of courses in the music department require students to attend concerts, but due to halted live performances, this remains difficult for students. He hopes that these prerecorded concerts will keep students interested and enthusiastic throughout virtual learning.
The LA Phil kicked off the season with “Love in the Time of COVID” on Sept. 25. The first episode featured mezzo-soprano J’nai Bridges and conductor Gustavo Dudamel exploring the expressions of love through music.
The nine concerts were recorded in the Hollywood Bowl stage over two weeks in July and August. Prior to every recording, artists and tech crews were required to get tested for COVID-19. Once on stage, musicians sat six to 12 feet apart — some wearing masks and others placed behind plexiglass cubicles.
Music professor Janine Riveire, who has been a fan and supporter of the LA Phil for over two decades, is thrilled that they were able to congregate safely to make music.
“People need to be able to hear and experience music and the other arts,” Riveire said. “The arts are especially suited to helping us deal with times of high stress such as we are experiencing right now.”
“Sound/Stage” will release a prerecorded concert weekly until Nov. 20. Each episode is accompanied by additional content — such as essays, interviews and artwork — to provide context to each performance and will be available for 30 days.
To view the free “Sound/Stage” concert series, visit laphil.com/campaigns/soundstage.
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