MUNCIE, INDIANA — On Saturday, May 22, the Muncie Symphony Orchestra welcomed guests to its first performance with a live, in-person audience in over a year. Dubbed “The MSO Returns,” the event included a meet-and-greet press conference before the show and an hour-long concert conducted by Matthew Kraemer.
The MSO Returns was also the debut concert for Scott Watkins, who joined the organization as executive director in February of this year.
“When I first came here, I was caught between two massive snowstorms,” he said in his opening remarks on Saturday. “As I sat there in this snowstorm, thinking about this orchestra, I thought, ‘What are we going to do? When is this COVID pandemic thing going to end? How are we going to handle this?’”
Watkins said he also started to think about everyone who had been “siloed at home” over the past year and how the lack of live music impacted them.
“Maybe you had a chance to listen to music at home, but it’s just not the same. It’s not the same as being together,” he said. “Music has a power to gather us, to unify us and to lift us up when we’re down. I thought we really ought to have a concert where we can do that—to unify and gather. And that’s what this concert is about tonight. It’s still a celebration of you as a subscriber, you as a donor, a supporter, a foundation, a group. And I’m so excited that we can do that together again.”
Watkins said the Muncie Symphony’s lineup for the season was carefully chosen to appeal to a wide variety of people in an effort to unify the community.
“What we’ve done is provided a great deal of diversity in musical tastes and choice,” said Matthew Kraemer, who serves as the artistic advisor for the orchestra. “We’ll be hearing from the many great works of the past—plenty of Tchaikovsky and Dvorak—but we’ve also got some Billy Joel, some John Williams and a great deal of popular music to share around the holidays as well.”
In addition to the upcoming season, Kraemer is looking forward to more in-person concerts.
“I can honestly tell you that as a professional in this business for over 20 years, I’ve taken concerts for granted,” Kraemer said. “I returned to live concerts just a few weeks ago; just to hear the sound of the audience’s applause—I can’t tell you how heartwarming it was.”
So far, the community seems to share Watkins’s and Kraemer’s excitement for the return of live music.
“Because of you, in the past three weeks we have exceeded every subscription revenue mark of the past 10 years,” Watkins announced Saturday. “And we’ve got four months to go before our opening concert, so I expect our numbers to look even better. That’s very exciting.”
Those interested can subscribe to the entire season—six concerts in total—starting at $115. The season begins in September and runs through April 2022. To subscribe, visit orchestraindiana.org or call 765-285-5531.
In addition to the regular season, the Muncie Symphony will be hosting two free concerts this summer. The first is a tribute to the Beatles, happening on June 12 at Canan Commons in downtown Muncie. The second is a patriotic concert on the 4th of July at Civic Green in downtown Yorktown. Both of these concerts are free and open to the public.
“I promise you your musicians are more excited than you know to be back performing live for you. This is just the start of a wonderful season that lies ahead of us,” Kraemer said.
To learn more about the Muncie Symphony Orchestra, visit orchestraindiana.org.
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About the Muncie Symphony Orchestra
For more than 71 years, the Muncie Symphony Orchestra has worked to entertain, educate, and enrich quality of life in the East Central Indiana community through meaningful, professional musical experiences. The Muncie Symphony is made up of professional and community musicians, hailing from Ball State University, East Central Indiana, Indianapolis, Fort Wayne, and Cincinnati. To learn more, visit orchestraindiana.org.