Vermont Symphony Orchestra looks to adapt timeless music in a time of coronavirus

CLOSE

The challenge facing Matt LaRocca was daunting: How to take classical music, an artistic realm that’s been around for, oh, half a millennium or so, and adapt it to the digital age — in a matter of weeks. During a pandemic.

The creative-projects guru for the Vermont Symphony Orchestra came up with “From the Box,” a livestreaming concert series derived from the highly-successful “Jukebox” chamber-music concerts he oversaw at ArtsRiot in Burlington before COVID-19 shut down public gatherings.

Personal pandemic: Short stories of Vermonters facing life in the coronavirus era

“We sort of envisioned it as a way to move beyond the music as much as we can,” LaRocca said, by letting viewers ask questions of the performers. “We’re trying to give it a real window, not only into who these amazing players are as players and musicians, but as people, too.”

Music lovers and those who work in the business have been devastated by the loss of live performance since mid-March. “For so many of us in the art world now and the music world, we’re doing our best, but when we look long-term it’s scary,” said LaRocca, who lives in Waterbury. The question of when gathering for concerts resumes is especially scary, he said — is it this fall? Next spring? 2022?

LaRocca said the VSO has evolved greatly in recent years, as exhibited by the Jukebox series and other efforts to bring classical music out of concert halls to less-traditional venues and communities. “And now we don’t have those,” LaRocca said. “And now we have to evolve again and shift again.”

That’s where a degree of solace comes in for LaRocca.

“We can change,” he said. “We’ve shown that as an organization and a group we do have flexibility. Now it’s trying to figure out how to make the most of that flexibility and still connect with people.”

Contact Brent Hallenbeck at (802) 660-1844 or bhallenbeck@freepressmedia.com. Follow Brent on Twitter at www.twitter.com/BrentHallenbeck.

This coverage is only possible with support from our readers. Sign up today for a subscription to the Burlington Free Press. 

Read or Share this story: https://www.burlingtonfreepress.com/story/entertainment/2020/06/11/vso-programmer-adapt-coronavirus-vermont-sypmphony-orchestra/5344016002/