TUPELO • If the North Mississippi Symphony Orchestra’s 50th season were a note on a sheet of music, it would have the fermata symbol over it.
A fermata, which resembles a bird’s eye, is placed over a note or rest telling musicians to hold it longer than its normal duration.
The Tupelo-based NMSO had planned to celebrate its golden anniversary during the 2020-21 season with special events, but COVID-19 concerns changed that. The start of the pandemic eaerlier this year forced the NMSO to cancel the final two performances of its 49th season.
The NMSO is regrouping for an abbreviated 50th season while holding the celebrating a little longer until next season.
“This season was originally planned to be our 50th anniversary celebration,” conductor Steven Byess recently wrote on the NMSO’s Facebook page,”but we have made the decision to postpone these significant celebrations until the 2021-2022 season when we will all hopefully feel safer about assembling large performing forces.”
Byess announced that the NMSO will perform four concerts early next year at the Link Centre.
“We have missed you and missed having the opportunity to perform beautiful music for you,” Byess said. “Classical music can offer great hope, optimism, and comfort in a time that desperately needs all of these things, and I am excited to announce that we plan to return to live performances in January 2021.”
Here are details from the NMSO about the upcoming Saturday evening concerts:
• Jan. 30, “Beethoven 7: The NMSO kicks off its 20-21 season with a dynamic new work by the exciting young composer Jessie Montgomery and the ebullient and mighty Symphony No. 7 of Beethoven.”
• Feb. 27, “Sublime Masterpieces: NMSO concertmaster Jenny Gregoire is featured in a gorgeous and sublime work by English composer Ralph Vaughan Williams, and the entire orchestra is featured in Aaron Copland’s iconic music for the ballet Appalachian Spring.”
• March 27, “Mendelssohn 5: Reformation Symphony: NMSO oboist Katherine Bowden is featured on English Horn in a beautiful work by French composer Reynaldo Hahn, Principal Trombone Micah Everett plays a charming Concertino by Swedish composer Lars-Erik Larsson, and the entire orchestra is featured in a sweeping and dramatic symphony by the brilliant 21-year-old composer, Felix Mendelssohn.”
• April 24, “Beautiful Beginnings: In a program composed entirely of music performed during the opening 1971-1972 season of the Tupelo Symphony Orchestra, the NMSO welcomes the return of the wonderful soprano Nancy Maria Balach in a sparkling and diverse collection of vocal showcases, and the orchestra performs the delightful Symphony No. 88 by Haydn. The performance will be the launch of the NMSO’s postponed 50th anniversary season.”
Byess said, “These programs will feature many of the amazing musicians in our orchestra as soloists, and they will present a great diversity of composers and musical styles, a continued presentation of new music, a variety of works that will feature the entire orchestra in many ways.”
Because of COVID-19 restrictions, Byess said, the programs will feature a reduced orchestra of about 40 players or fewer, shorter performances of about 60 to 70 minutes, socially distancing seating and no intermission.
“Thank you for your understanding and flexibility during this challenging time,” Byess said. “We look forward to being together with you soon making beautiful music once again.”