‘Great cartharsis’: Tallahassee Symphony Orchestra welcomes joyous ‘Return to Ruby’

Photo Credit: Alicia Devine/Tallahassee Democrat

For many musicians in the Tallahassee Symphony Orchestra, it’s been a long winter’s night – 19 months to be exact – since they’ve performed as part of an orchestral ensemble.

In March 2020, the TSO’s music abruptly stopped midway through a rehearsal week, when the pandemic officially punched the country in the gut. But finally, and joyfully, the music returns Saturday night, Oct. 16, when the TSO celebrates its “Return to Ruby.”

“This is a moment of great catharsis for everyone involved in our organization, from musicians to board, staff to audience,” comments CEO Amanda Stringer. “In some ways it’s surreal to be returning to the stage, especially in the context of what we’ve all gone through, and in other ways it is totally comforting, like coming home.”

Saturday night’s program offers musical works both old and new. Copland’s stirring “Fanfare for the Common Man” will herald the new season’s opening. Other highlights include music by the living Black composer Jessie Montgomery, Beethoven’s Triple Concerto played by an all-star trio of guest artists, and Brahms’ towering Symphony No. 1.

“I chose Brahms’ First Symphony for our return to the concert hall because not only is it a great piece of music, but it embodies the journey from darkness to light and in that way parallels what our world has been through over the past 20 months,” said conductor Darko Butorac. “It has been extremely taxing on all artists to be sequestered during the pandemic, to not be able to share their voices in person, and it will be very powerful to experience that once again.”

The TSO’s exuberance in returning to the stage is tempered with a bit of caution given that COVID still lingers, and the organization has gone to great lengths to maximize safety and offer a variety of options in how concertgoers enjoy the music.

There is a designated socially-distanced section of the hall, an option to stream from home rather than attend in-person, and all patrons are required to wear masks. Additionally, the dress rehearsal for the concert, which the TSO typically offers free of charge, will be available to only a limited number of people for a small fee.

“The audience is the most important element of the concert experience. This became painfully obvious during the pandemic” says Stringer. “That’s why we’re doing everything we can to protect our patrons. We want to make sure they feel safe and cared for by us.”

Tickets for the TSO’s Return to Ruby, including those for live-streaming and the dress rehearsal, are on sale at www.tallahasseesymphony.org or by calling 850-224-0461.

Courtesy of the Tallahassee Democrat