Local musicians prepare to take stage after pandemic shutdown

Published: Jul. 31, 2020 at 6:27 PM EDT
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AIKEN, S.C. (WRDW/WAGT) - Coronavirus is taking its toll on many industries in both Georgia and South Carolina, especially the music and performing industry.

Now South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster is easing restrictions on theatres, concerts, and performing arts centers. That’s music to the ears of one local group in Aiken.

“The doors are shut the venues are not available and we are left to figure out how do we go to plan B,” Wendy Hirsch, administrator for the Aiken Symphony Orchestra, said.

Music halls and theatres around the country are empty and needing attention.

Hirsch says the pandemic is simply hurting the orchestra.

“Our musicians are having a very difficult time because if they can’t play, they can’t play in orchestras, if they can’t play in weddings, they can’t do church services. If they can’t do things like that then their revenue stream has dried up,” she explained.

But now, certain venues across the state will begin to unlock their doors and reopen for events.

Hirsch says they’ve already started preparing.

“We have talked about how to socially distance the seating within the venue and we’ve had tape measures out and been doing just that,” she said.

McMaster says venues can now operate at only 50 percent or 250 people. The conductor of the orchestra, Donald Portnoy, is anticipating a new normal.

“Orchestras will be a little different than they’ve ever been before,” Portnoy said.

To him, getting back into the swing of things won't be easy for anyone.

“But the bottom line is you have to guarantee people that if they are willing to come out, their safety is the first concern,” he said.

Hirsch says even though there are no performances, customers stayed loyal.

“We have a lot of patrons that are still emailing and calling and wanting to know when we are going to have a concert,” Hirsch said.

The Aiken Symphony Orchestra says they will continue to look after their patrons’ safety and they hope to start bringing classical music back to the CSRA soon.

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