On the evening of Nov. 14, the Binghamton Philharmonic Orchestra’s (BPO) principal cellist, Hakan Tayga, will perform at the DoubleTree by Hilton in Downtown Binghamton. The performance will feature three pieces handpicked by Tayga himself — two Bach cello suites, including the first suite’s famous prelude, with a Ligeti piece sandwiched in between. All three pieces will be played on Tayga’s own traditional Baroque cello, gut strings and all. This event, bound to be a treat for the masked and socially-distanced audience, also marks the Binghamton Philharmonic’s second-ever “Social Gathering Concert.”
The “Social Gathering Concert” event series is a new type of performance where audiences are capped at 45 members to adhere to New York state’s pandemic-era regulations. In addition to requiring masks and conducting brief health screenings such as temperature checks upon entry, the BPO is also dedicated to finding venues with the capacity for social distancing. Such measures, among others, are underpinned by the organization’s paramount priorities of health and safety.
A delightfully intimate concert setting is virtually guaranteed by such conditions, yet it does have its drawbacks. One such drawback is the limited seating, which the Tayga concert witnessed since the event sold out nearly a week in advance. However, even if you missed this concert, you’re in luck — the BPO has several upcoming events, musical and nonmusical alike. Abby Cleveland, assistant executive director of the BPO, said the organization is planning these types of events for the future to keep audiences interested.
“We’re being really creative about what types of things we’re doing to stay engaged with our audience during this time,” Cleveland said.
Among such things is a third “Social Gathering Concert” event, set to take place on Dec. 5 at Temple Concord. This event will feature BPO percussionists Daniel Fabricius and Joel Smales. While the program has yet to be determined, the very nature of the event presents concert-goers with the unique opportunity for a more intimate, up-close experience with percussion instruments. In the subsequent week, there will also be a seasonal concert, “Home for the Holidays,” on Dec. 12. The program is packed with all the pops pieces an audience could hope for, from Tchaikovsky’s beloved “Nutcracker Suite” to classic movie soundtracks such as that of “The Polar Express.”
Come the new year, the BPO expects to exhibit another concert, “Tapestry of New York,” on Jan. 30 at the Broome County Forum Theatre. The event’s program was chosen to reflect the landscape of rural upstate New York, whose rolling hills and vast skies are easily taken for granted, especially in the pits of winter. In addition to works by Aaron Copland and acclaimed contemporary composer Jessie Montgomery, audience members will also hear Beethoven’s sixth symphony, sometimes called the “Pastoral Symphony.” This is a special piece because it is one of the composer’s few works that employs explicitly “programmatic” features, or musical features that allude to elements of the external world. In this case, Beethoven was recreating Vienna’s countryside, including sounds akin to a thunderstorm, birdsongs and flowing streams.
Still yet, if classical music isn’t your cup of tea, the BPO plans to host its sixth-annual Mac & Cheese Fest on Feb. 18. Though Cleveland notes that the structure of this year’s event has been altered from past years with an eye kept on the pandemic, participants can still enjoy a delicious, cheesy meal.
This is just a preliminary glimpse at a few of the many upcoming BPO events. At press time, all tickets must be purchased in advance. Binghamton University students should note that when it comes to concerts, student discounts are generally available with a student ID — parents, note that kids are often free. To snag your tickets or obtain additional information, pay a visit to the BPO website or find the organization on Facebook or Instagram.