The Four Seasons Fall Season Opening Extravaganza was streamed in the Four Seasons digital concert hall on Sept. 27 and then again on Oct. 4 at 3 p.m. and introduced each of the four residencies which will take place as part of the fall season.
John Holloway, the managing director of the Four Seasons Chamber Music Festival, said this year, the fall portion of the festival will be held virtually in the new Four Seasons Digital Concert Hall. Normally, musicians would come together physically for the festival, Holloway said.
“Four Seasons brings the world’s foremost musicians to North Carolina to present concerts, master classes, interactive discussions, community outreach and more. Our mission is two-fold – to create dynamic and world-class concerts; and to develop the next generation of great musicians,” Holloway said in an email statement.
There have been some challenges associated with the move to a virtual format, Holloway said. He said the musicians are accustomed to playing in “the world’s biggest concert halls,” with professionals taking care of lighting and recording.
For this season opener concert, musicians had to do their own recording and video shooting, Holloway said. For some of the pieces in the event, musicians met up and recorded together or individuals recorded solo pieces from their homes. For other pieces, musicians were recorded separately and edited together so they sounded as if they were in the same place, Holloway said.
Throughout the free live streamed event, Ara Gregorian, founder and artistic director of the Four Seasons Music Festival, introduced each of the four residencies which will take place throughout the season. Musicians that will be featured in each residency said a few words about the music they will play and then a recording of a piece from the residency was shown.
“While challenging to get used to initially, the virtual format provides so many opportunities. We can reach everyone in the world now and show the world what Four Seasons, ECU, Greenville and all of our supporters have built,” Holloway said.
Some of the concerts from the season will be made up of material recorded by artists ahead of time and sent in, and some of them will be livestreamed from their normal venues in both Greenville and Raleigh, according to Holloway. For the portions of the festival that will be livestreamed or recorded with all musicians physically in-person, he said certain precautions will be taken against the spread of COVID-19.
Holloway said musicians wear masks and social distance at rehearsals and performances. He said both the musicians and staff as well as their listeners have had to “learn many new skills” to maneuver through the festival due to COVID-19.
“Chamber music is such an intimate genre – it was written to be performed in living rooms and small salons, and wearing masks and staying distant challenges the very core of what chamber music is built on,” Holloway said. “However, hearing our musicians perform from their living rooms adds another level of intimacy, and brings them into our lives in a way that we can’t do in the large halls we’re all used to performing in.”
Holloway said the audience experience will be similar to how it is in person in that they will still bring world class musicians to the Greenville community, but that the virtual experience has offered an even greater capacity for audience interaction with the musicians.
Each residency ticket will include an interactive session with the musicians about the context of the music they will be performing, called FS-in-Depth as well as access to a moderated interview with the artists and virtual backstage celebrations, according to Holloway.
“Our goal at Four Seasons has always been to dissolve the barrier between musicians and artists. You can’t produce a concert without an audience, and our supporters and listeners are essential in making Four Seasons successful. Our virtual fall season adds many more opportunities for audience-artist interaction,” Holloway said.
Each week will also include recordings of Next Gen Day, which features the week’s artists teaching young musicians, Holloway said. Through the Four Seasons Community initiative and in partnership with The Concert Truck, he said Four Seasons has created a miniature television series for elementary school-aged children. One of these children’s shows will be released with each residency.
Ara Gregorian, founder and artistic director of the Four Seasons Music Festival said he is excited about the new opportunities this season presents to reach people.
“Four Seasons brings great music and musicians to everyone, and that continues to be the most important thing for us. We’ve created a fall season with even more concerts and events than ever and I’m confident that people will continue to love what we do. I look forward to people joining us throughout our 21st season,” Gregorian said in an email statement.