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Boulder’s first-ever drive-in symphony presents Grammy-winning Takács Quartet

Performance, presented by Boulder Symphony, will feature 'pod' seating

Takács Quartet will perform outside the Boulder Jewish Community Center on Sunday at 6 p.m. The production, presented by Boulder Symphony, will feature ‘pod’ seating and drive-in spots for attendees who wish to stay in their vehicles. (Boulder Symphony/ Courtesy photo)
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Not afraid to veer from tradition, the Boulder Symphony has provided numerous eclectic offerings since its inception in 2009.

From incorporating pop songs into its repertoire to engaging younger generations with costumed productions, the organization is committed to presenting the classic art form in fresh ways. The symphony’s GLOW project even delivers dementia-friendly and sensory-friendly concerts to individuals, their caretakers and loved ones.

Devin Patrick Hughes conducts the Boulder Symphony in 2017 during a rehearsal at First Presbyterian Church. (Daily Camera file photo)

Since the start of the pandemic, the community-focused orchestra has been seeking out new options to keep fans entranced while still maintaining a level of safety. Sunday, Boulder Symphony will present a socially distanced performance by Grammy Award-winning Takács Quartet, outside of the Jewish Community Center, 6007 Oreg Ave., at 6 p.m. Tickets range from $45-$100. It will be the Boulder-based Takács’ first live performance of the season with its new violist Richard O’Neil.

Wednesday, the symphony will present a virtual concert by renowned pianist Anton Nel.

On Oct. 3, musicians will provide the music for a livestream yoga class in partnership with the Grief Support Network.

We spoke with music director and conductor Devin Patrick Hughes to find out about the group’s upcoming collaborations, inventive seating options and how now more than ever members are truly living the symphony’s motto of “Orchestrating the unexpected.”

Daily Camera: Love that Boulder Symphony is still offering folks both in-person and virtual entertainment. How was your Sept. 5 fundraiser at Niwot Tavern? What prompted you to hold this event to raise funds for the symphony and the NAACP Legal Defense Fund?

Devin Patrick Hughes: The Niwot Tavern has been an incredible partner, and this is the second dinner and performance that we’ve hosted with them this summer. The idea is to give people the opportunity to pick up, or sit socially distant, a harmonically tailored menu and enjoy some really incredible music. We’ve had brass bands to djembe drumming — featuring world-class Malian drummer Abdoul Doumbia — and raised money for the symphony to continue our performances and operations, along with other causes that we as an organization believe in, in this case Community Food Share and the NAACP Legal Defense Fund.

Paul Aiken
Devin Patrick Hughes leads the Boulder Symphony Orchestra in 2014. (Karen A. Dombrowski-Sobel / Courtesy photo)

DC: I understand that on Saturday you are hosting a socially distanced dinner event at Denver eatery Brightmarten with Arapahoe Philharmonic. What can attendees expect from this night and do you plan on joining forces with any Boulder or Longmont restaurants for events in the near future?

DPH: The dinner at Brightmarten is just one example where we as a driver and organizer of community are putting together nonprofits with restaurants, knowing that both are in difficult circumstances currently. The goal is to mine the creativity of restaurant owners, chefs and musicians to see how we can create events that continue to keep us all connected during these challenging times. For this dinner, we have a “Rags to Riches” theme, that will feature a diverse palette of Ragtime, Handel, Rossini in a multi-course menu. You bring up a great point. We are currently looking at ways to bring organizations and businesses together that bridge the Boulder and Denver metro areas. I believe both Boulder Symphony and Arapahoe Philharmonic have been model organizations for how to evolve and adapt during the times of COVID. We are positioning ourselves to keep connected to our patrons, educational partners and community segments during COVID and reimagine what our communities will want from Symphony Orchestras in the post-COVID world.

Renowned pianist Anton Nel will perform a virtual concert featuring works by Mozart, Schumann, Chabrier and Cécile Chaminade, presented by Boulder Symphony, at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday. Music director Devin Patrick Hughes will speak with the award-winning musician about his career and teaching in the COVID era. (Boulder Symphony/ Courtesy photo)

DC: The Sept. 13 performance with Takács Quartet seems highly anticipated. How did this show come together and what are you most looking forward to about the performance?

DPH: Andrew Krimm, our executive director, has an extensive chamber music background, so while brainstorming on how to present COVID-safe concerts for our patrons our thoughts went straight to chamber music. We are extremely fortunate in Boulder to have one of the world’s premier string quartets in residence at CU, the Takács Quartet. We approached Takács about presenting a live concert to help us bring classical music back to the community and they excitedly obliged. The aspect of this performance that I am most excited about is simple — bringing world-class music, during these challenging times, in a live and accessible format to our amazing Boulder community.

DC: Throughout September, the Colorado Symphony will perform at Red Rocks and I’m curious if we can expect Boulder Symphony to take more outdoor stages this fall.

DPH: Throughout the past summer and into the fall, we will continue to present concerts outdoors in Boulder.  The Takács Quartet performance will take place on the lawn at the JCC Boulder, we were co-presenters for the Boulder Arts Outdoors drive-in festival in early August, and we are working on planning our yearly educational “Curiosity Concert” at an outdoor venue that will take place around Halloween. We are excited to adapt to these challenging times, and still bring world-class music to our community.

Boulder Symphony Orchestra music director Devin Patrick Hughes during a performance in 2015. (Boulder Symphony/ Courtesy photo.)

DC: Lastly, would you say the new safety guidelines have forced you to get more creative with your offerings?

DPH: Definitely. For our upcoming Takács Quartet Concert we have designed “COVID Pods” for our patrons. Each pod is 6-by-6 feet and can hold up to four people. Each pod will be separated by 12 feet on all sides to give patrons ample room to stay easily socially distanced. Lastly, we are offering “Balcony Parking” spots for patrons who would prefer to remain in their cars for the performance. There will be a live FM broadcast so that all the car patrons can easily hear the beautiful, live sound of the Takács Quartet. Artists in all fields are struggling to find opportunities to perform during the current pandemic and Boulder Symphony is trying our best to provide opportunities for musicians to have a safe space to share their art.

 

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