One of Winnipeg's top players in the arts is excited to welcome guests back at the Centennial Concert Hall.
Trudy Schroeder, the Executive Director of the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra (WSO) is anticipating an "overwhelming feeling of profound relief" the moment she can sink into one of the thousands of red chairs for the first in-person concert of 2021.
"There is something profoundly different about having live music with a live audience," Schroeder says. "The way we breathe together when we are sitting together and listening to music together, and music just hits us in a really special or energizing or moving way."
On Thursday, Manitoba's Chief Public Health officer announced that concert halls and theatres would likely reopen at 25 per cent max capacity, or a total of 250 people, in the next phase of the provincial reopening plans.
Limited capacity is something the WSO is more than willing to work with. While it requires extra costs, Schroeder knows people will be excited to be back.
"I think there are people who have been just anxious to be back, anxious to have this experience, anxious to get out," she says. "This business of having a shared experience of music is what makes the whole concert-going experience so special for them... it becomes a memory of space and time and the electricity that can develop."
While the Centennial Concert Hall can seat many more than 250 people, closer to ten times that, patrons will be spaced further than needed. If attending with people outside of household bubbles, Schroeder says they seat them six feet apart.
"The concert hall has been fantastic to work with making sure that we have got a whole bunch of different doors that we enter, that we time entrances, and that we keep people in these cohorts," she says, reminiscing that in October concerts looked very similar to the proposed changed the province is currently learning about.
Plans in place, a symphony of players and fans could soon be under the same roof.
"I think it will make a huge difference to the energy, to the kind of natural response that musicians have with the people who are in fact part of the performance. Part of the response, the reactions, and the energy of the people in the audience become part of the concert experience."
While the in-person audience would be much smaller than the WSO is accustomed to, many more can continue to stream online. Understanding that some may be more comfortable at home, Schroeder is anticipating live-streaming to stay for the season.
"What has become even more clear is people certainly have been fantastic about supporting our streamed concerts."
Schroeder is anticipating the concert space to look different in the future, looking to combine at-home comforts with the expected grandeur that comes with attending a classical concert.
"I don't mean bring your pets to a concert, that would maybe be a little rough-going. We won't start our first concert back with 'oh come bring your pyjamas and come bring your cat,' Schroeder jokes. "But there are things that we need to think about, about the future of concert-going and how does the post-COVID world respond and react?"