As the coronavirus has our lives in a state of uncertainty, many organizations are doing their best to survive, and the Acadiana Symphony Orchestra is no exception.

But, they are adapting: the organization has turned to virtual performances for their 36th season.

Devon Zeek/Acadiana Symphony Orchestra

Tonight's program, "Triumph", included Prokofiev's "Peter and the Wolf" (narrated by Marc Broussard) and Stravinsky's "A Soldier's Tale" (narrated by yours truly), and it was live-streamed on the internet.

As part of the COVID-19 mitigation efforts, the Acadiana Symphony is following the guidelines set forth by local, state, and federal health experts and municipalities. That means, for the time being, no audience. It also means that the members have to maintain their social distance and non-wind musicians need to remain masked.

Devon Zeek/Acadiana Symphony Orchestra

So how does the ASO survive if no audience is allowed in the venue? Well, in a few ways: fundraisers, donations, and virtual tickets.

I had the honor of taking part in tonight's performance as the narrator of "A Soldier's Tale". I've done work with ASO in the past, but it was never on stage with the orchestra and, I must say, it was quite an experience.

Devon Zeek/Acadiana Symphony Orchestra

First, I have to share how totally professional and determined I found the musicians to be, and how focused the conductor, Mariusz Smolij, remained during the performance. Not having any experience in front of the conductor (I've always been in the audience, behind the conductor's back), it was very interesting to watch his movements and the way he communicated with each member of the orchestra.

As narrator, I was to take visual cues from the conductor when it was my turn to speak and, if I wasn't watching closely, I would have missed my cues. Being "in" the orchestra was very intense because everyone has to be on their toes to catch the cues from the conductor. He stands up there and makes it look easy, but when you concentrate on what he is doing and see how involved his job is, you get a whole new appreciation for his talent and for the way he communicates with his orchestra.

It was a little strange performing in front of an empty audience, but I know that the cameras were sending out the experience to people right in their living rooms. After the performance, several people I know texted me to let me know they enjoyed the show.

Christiaan Mader played the role of "The Soldier", and Paul Sahuc played "The Devil" and, I must say, I felt like the least accomplished person on the stage. Both actors took command of their characters, and I was honored to share the stage with them.

Devon Zeek/Acadiana Symphony Orchestra

The Acadiana Symphony has several performances remaining in "Revive", their 36th Season. I recommend you check out one or more if you get a chance. You'll be entertained, and your support will help keep the Acadiana Symphony Orchestra strong.


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