‘There will be music’
With addition of video streaming, the show will go on this summer for Lake Placid Sinfonietta
LAKE PLACID — There will definitely be a summer residency this year for the Lake Placid Sinfonietta, after taking last summer off due to the coronavirus pandemic. And organizers are saying it will be “the most unique six weeks of performances in the orchestra’s history.”
Social gathering and orchestra guidelines for the outdoor and indoor concerts between July 7 and Aug. 15 are not yet known, but there is a trend of the state allowing more people to attend arts and entertainment venues. Therefore, Sinfonietta Executive Director Debbie Fitts is cautiously optimistic about having live audiences this summer.
“I’m not even looking too carefully at the guidelines right now because we anticipate they’re going to be different by mid-June,” Fitts said on April 13. “We’re trying to set ourselves up to be in a situation where we can be really agile in response to that.”
Beginning on April 2, event, arts and entertainment venues could reopen at 33% capacity, up to 100 people indoors and 200 people outdoors. If all attendees show proof of a negative COVID-19 test prior to entry, the capacity can increase up to 150 people indoors and 500 people outdoors. Social distancing and face coverings are required by all attendees.
Plus, domestic travelers to New York who have been vaccinated no longer have to quarantine or test out within 90 days of their full vaccination. The music director and 16 musicians live outside the state.
Worst-case scenario: The Sinfonietta will live-stream all its Wednesday and Sunday concerts online, without in-person audiences. Best-case-scenario: The live-stream will be coupled with in-person audiences.
“Wherever we stream them from, we’ll allow people to watch in person as the government guidelines allow at that time,” Fitts said.
Sunday’s Symphony Series concerts will be held at their usual location, the Lake Placid Center for the Arts theater, but the location of Wednesday’s Park Series concerts is not yet certain. Usually they are held at the Paul White Memorial Shell in Mid’s Park, with a rain site at St. Agnes Church. But the outdoor location poses a couple of challenges.
First, the orchestra needs a hard-wired dedicated internet connection in order to stream its concerts online. Second, the band shell stage is smaller than the one at the LPCA, and spacing guidelines for musicians are not yet known for this summer.
That’s where Music Director Stuart Malina comes in. Having been chosen as the new maestro at the end of the 2019 season, he has yet to conduct his own summer residency program. But Malina, who is the music director and conductor of the Harrisburg Symphony Orchestra, has been busy working with Sinfonietta musicians virtually.
“Although I met the musicians when I auditioned for this position in 2019, I’ve really come to know them over Zoom, emails and phone calls,” Malina said in a press release. “I can’t wait to work with them and anticipate a very exciting summer of collaborative and excellent performance!”
Due to the unknowns of the 2021 season, it seems as though Malina is doing double the work to prepare for Lake Placid. If the number of musicians is limited — due to a smaller stage or a COVID case with an orchestra member — Malina will switch from Plan A to Plan B.
“A space like the band shell, if we’re required to space our musicians apart, that’s going to impact how many people we can have on stage playing at once, which will change the choice of music we play,” Fitts said. “But there will be music.”
In a March 8 letter to the Lake Placid village board, asking for an increase in funds for the upcoming season, Fitts explained the Plan A and Plan B (although she didn’t call them that). She wrote that Malina is planning a concert season of music for the entire ensemble, and he’s preparing contingency programs of chamber music if they have to perform with smaller groups.
During their March 15 meeting, village trustees approved the increase in support to the Sinfonietta, from the usual $5,000 a season to $10,000 for this year. The village did not give the orchestra $5,000 last year because the season was canceled.
The extra money will help offset the cost of live-streaming the concerts, Fitts said in the letter. For the Wednesday concerts alone, she estimated it would cost $11,500. Plus streaming the music adds another layer of licensing costs. And she anticipates a drop in revenue from fees and sponsorships by reducing the number of Adirondack Series concerts around the park.
At this time, one free community concert is planned for July 22 at the Hotel Saranac, and more concerts may be announced at a later date.
By streaming the concerts, Fitts said the Lake Placid Sinfonietta will be able to reach more people than it normally would.
“That opens up the music to a lot of people that can’t get to a concert,” she said, “people that are in hospitals and nursing homes, encarcerated people, summer camp people, people that don’t like to travel in the evening, people that can’t be in Lake Placid for whatever reason on a given week.”
The Lake Placid Sinfonietta is a professional chamber orchestra of 20 musicians — some of the top players from larger orchestras across the country.
Other than the 2020 break for the pandemic and in 1945 for World War II, the orchestra has performed every summer since 1917.
For more information, visit online at www.lakeplacidsinfonietta.org.