BILLINGS — The 48th annual Symphony in the Park performance from the Billings Symphony Orchestra and Chorale will kick off at 7 p.m. Sunday and will be streamed from the website billingssymphony.org for free.
The heavily-attended event is usually held on a grassy hill at Pioneer Park, but the concert was shifted to an online format this year to keep up with social distancing restrictions and prevent COVID-19 spread.
“The priority has always been the safety of our patrons and our staff. Since March, we have been dealing with cancellations and rescheduling concerts. We’ve been trying to find a way to keep opening music to our community, but online," said Ignacio Barron Viela, executive director for the Billings Symphony
Viela said the performance this year is pre-recorded. It will contain a selection of songs from past Symphony in the Park concerts and a handful of more recent songs recorded last week at Pioneer Park.
"We’ll have a brass group performing different pieces and we’ll also have a conversation with our music director. We hope everybody enjoys the 48th symphony in the park. We thought that we must put the show on, even from behind a screen,” Viela said.
To view the free concert, head to billingssymphony.org and find Virtual Symphony in the Park under the events tab. From there, you will "purchase" a free ticket to the event and be emailed a link to view the performance once it starts at 7 p.m.
The symphony will be accepting donations virtually this year in lieu of the usual bucket brigade that collects donations from the crowd. To donate, text "BSOC" to 41444, or fill out a form on the symphony's web site by clicking here.
Viela said donations go to support the symphony's community outreach programs. Symphony in the Park is its most recognizable, but musicians take 100 trips a year to places like prisons, senior homes and schools to bring music to those who don't normally hear it, Viela said
"We try to inspire the youth with music. We believe that every single kid deserves the opportunity to listen to and play music and for us, music is a right. We’ll keep putting music out there as much as we can. Thanks to your support, we can keep doing these types of performances for free,” Viela said.
The Kid Conducting contest also moved to a virtual format this year. Kids, with the help of their parents, submitted their conducting videos ahead of time to the symphony to be considered for the contest.
Viela said the winner of the contest will be announced on the symphony's social media ahead of the performance and the winner will get to conduct the symphony at a future date.
People can also enter to win a pair of tickets to the symphony's 2021 season opener by submitting a selfie of their friends and family watching the Symphony in the Park performance to the symphony's Facebook page