Tallahassee Symphony Orchestra takes the stage for the first time in almost two years

Alicia Devine/Tallahassee Democrat

Dozens of musicians were thrilled to see one another, many for the first time in almost two years.

Ruby Diamond Auditorium was abuzz with chatter and orchestra instruments being tuned as members of the Tallahassee Symphony Orchestra prepared for their first rehearsal since the start of the pandemic.

“To be back feels like the moment when you first got on stage and had the opportunity to create something beautiful,” said TSO music director Darko Butorac. “It was all taken away from us for almost two years.”

TSO’s first live performance will take place at Ruby Diamond on Saturday night.

A few new precautions have been taken to keep everyone safe.

All musicians that perform, as many as 85, have been fully vaccinated before returning to the stage and the audience is required to wear masks.

During the pandemic, TSO put together six online performances for fans to enjoy but it didn’t compare to performing live.

“Lockdown hit literally in the middle of our rehearsal process for a concert and the last time we were on stage we didn’t get to perform a concert,” Butorac said.

“If there’s anything I learned in the preceding year and a half of making virtual concerts, is the incredible role the audience plays in the performance,” Butorac said. “The energy from the stage to the audience, back to the stage – we feel it as musicians.”

In fact, the orchestra decided to stay ten minutes later and play one piece just for themselves.

During the pandemic many of the musicians used their time to participate in virtual performances or private lessons. Nathan Tingler, a timpanist and percussion instructor in Brevard, North Carolina, put together a series of videos to create a concert for kids.

At the high school where Tingler teaches, he managed to construct an outdoor, socially distanced drum performance with his students during a halftime show.

With the first performance being just days away for Tingler and his peers, the excitement is building.

“The very first note of ‘Fanfare for the Common Man’ is loud and will be shocking and will be the first thing that a lot of people in the crowd have heard live in a long time,” Tingler said.

“The reaction of the crowd to that first note is what I’m looking forward to most.”

Want to go?

“The Return to Ruby” featuring Copland’s stirring “Fanfare for the Common Man,” Beethoven’s Triple Concerto and Brahms’ towering Symphony No. 1 will be performed at Ruby Diamond at 8 p.m. Saturday. For information on upcoming performances or to purchase tickets, visit tallahasseesymphony.org.

You can get a free sneak peek of the performance during an open rehearsal Saturday from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. A ticket must be secured online, and social distancing and masks are required.

By Alicia Devine | Courtesy of the Tallahassee Democrat