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Symphony brings spring concert, 'Young People's Concert' to small screens

Award-winning guest violinist William Hagen will join the Bakersfield Symphony Orchestra for a virtual performance on Saturday.

Saturday's program, described as a "musical celebration of spring and the changing of the seasons," will open with Copland’s "Appalachian Spring Suite." Hagen will perform on a rare 1732 Stradivarius violin, Piazzolla’s exotic and exciting "Four Seasons of Buenos Aires" to life.

Viewers can watch the show at 3 p.m. on KERO-23 ABC or on the Bakersfield Symphony Orchestra’s website and Facebook page.

The symphony has also found a way to continue its popular “Young People’s Concert” even with COVID-19 restrictions. Normally held in-person each spring and fall, the concert has moved to a virtual presentation, which will allow many more students to enjoy it. (When held at Mechanics Bank Theater, 8,000 students are able to attend.)

“When the pandemic hit, the Symphony quickly pivoted and began offering our education programs virtually. The response and results have been tremendous and even when live performances are permitted, we feel that there is a real need to include a virtual option,” Holly Arnold, executive director, said in a news release.

Within 48 hours of announcing this year’s virtual concert to educators in Kern County, local teachers registered with a projected student reach of over 20,000 — with the rural communities, having never had the opportunity to participate, being the first to sign up — from Ridgecrest to Taft, Frazier Park to McFarland and more. In order to be as inclusive as possible, the recording will have a multi-language option media platform and “picture in picture” sign language interpreter on the video. Optional lesson plans will be provided for teachers to use with their students prior to viewing the performance.

“Teachers and entire school districts have signed up for the virtual program," Kendra Green, director of education engagement, said in the news release. “Educators have shared the information with friends and colleagues, and we’re thrilled that thus far, over 75,000 students in 36 states and Canada are signed up to for the Bakersfield Symphony’s Young People’s Concert!”

This year’s program is "The Conductor’s Spellbook," which tells the magical story of Tony Stradivarius who, during a field trip to the symphony, finds a powerful book of spells and uses it to control the orchestra. The exciting, interactive concert experience will introduce young audiences to music, orchestral instruments and conducting.

Until restrictions allow for public performances, the orchestra will perform following strict COVID guidelines, and performances will be recorded for broadcast free of charge. Because of this, these programs rely on sponsors and donations to weather this challenging performance season.

To learn more about violinist William Hagen or the Saturday performance, or to sign up to view the Young People’s Concert, go to bsonow.org.

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