Running an arts organization these days is not for the faint of heart. Being an artist isn’t either…particularly exhausting and scary for musicians.

We’ve gone silent. And it feels worse than I’m able to explain in words.

I’ve been very proud of what the SSO has accomplished in the last few weeks. Our digitally distant performances, online concert, musician chats, and Beethoven Fest have had more than 25,000 people from around the world engaging with us. We have gotten to know ourselves in a new way, and we’ve gotten to connect with some patrons in ways we never thought we could. It’s clear that our SSO for You online portal is not only here to stay, but lets us grow and connect in more ways.

Musicians around the world went silent, and immediately the world turned to music…with streamed concerts and playlists meaning more than ever. It has been extra hard for a world on the cusp of celebrating the 250th anniversary of the birth of Beethoven.

The pandemic, and its effects on the SSO and music worldwide, has made me do a lot of reflecting about Beethoven. Musicians and music lovers alike know his music, often intimately, down to every last nuance. But there’s much still to consider from the man who changed music.

Just after turning 30, his hearing was slipping away. Nothing is more vital and more critical to a musician than their hearing. As each year passed, he worked harder, explored more, he pushed the limits of music. He performed and conducted premieres that he had to self produce just to make sure his music was heard. His life kept getting more challenging, and often he was his own worst enemy. To him, the world went silent. But his own world was musically vivid.

As his ability to communicate through music became increasingly challenging, Beethoven turned his face to the storm. He wrote. He wrote music that challenged the establishment, he wrote music that changed the way musicians took on their craft, and he wrote music that would go on to change the world forever.

He had something so crucial taken away from him, and he could not give up.

The SSO, like orchestras around the globe, had to go silent. And right now, it’s impossible to know what will happen next. There are great glimmers of hope around the world, with orchestras soon hosting concerts with up to 55% of audience in their halls. But none of us know what will happen next.

Over the last few weeks, the SSO team has become galvanized in the knowledge that we can’t give up.

We hope we can present the concerts we have planned this fall, with adaptations that keep us all safe. But, if we can’t, we have multiple “plan B’s” in the works – concerts that showcase the innovation, creativity, and beautiful music making that the SSO brings to its community. We are exploring ways to digitally capture our school shows, seniors homes, and outreach programming so that we can keep bringing musical experiences to everyone who needs it.

We will make music for you no matter what. We will look to ensure that our concerts are safe for patrons and musicians alike. We will push our creativity to new bounds. We will innovate and explore and face the challenge with determination. Like Beethoven, silence isn’t an option.

It might be different. It might feel strange at first. It will be creative. It will be worth the work and worth the wait.

It may not change the world, but it will make a difference.

Thank you for supporting the SSO – I hope you’ll join me in making a donation to your orchestra at this time when literally every donation makes a world of difference.

Mark Turner
Executive Director

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