Story by Carrie Beth Wallace
Nearly seven months after suspending all rehearsals and performances due to COVID-19, the Youth Orchestra of Greater Columbus (YOGC) will begin playing together again next week.
Returning to rehearsals for the string orchestra has been made possible through a new collaborative partnership with the Columbus Convention and Trade Center.
The decision to reconvene follows two pilot pop-up Jam Sessions YOGC hosted this summer. In the months of June and July, the staff held open sessions outdoors at Lakebottom Park for students to gather in small, socially-distant groups and play their instruments. The pop-up Jam Sessions were met with success, and allowed YOGC staff to test the feasibility of upholding the latest safety procedures with young musicians.
"YOGC’s staff and board have been monitoring the latest research coming out on safe instrumental rehearsals," said YOGC Executive Director, Stephanie Payne. "Our June and July Jam Sessions proved that there is not only a way to make music together safely, but that our young musicians need a way to do that."
All YOGC rehearsals and activities this Fall will follow the Columbus GA C.A.R.E.S. guidelines, a set of recommendations published by VisitColumbusGA to help businesses and organizations reduce the risk of coronavirus transmission in the community. These include mandatory masks, social distancing, and health checks for all attendees and staff.
Monday, September 28th, YOGC will host a virtual Open House on Zoom for all of their musicians and their guardians. This mandatory meeting is to ensure that all parties involved are on the same page with the organization's safety protocols for rehearsals. According to Payne, "artistic plans for the 27th season will also be discussed, and any questions from attendees will be answered by myself and/or our Conductor, James Palmer."
Fall rehearsals for YOGC will begin October 5th at the Columbus Convention and Trade Center. Due to instrumentation requirements, all percussion rehearsals will remain at Columbus State University’s Schwob School of Music.
Payne said she and her staff continue to monitor safety protocols and recommendations throughout their industry. "In addition to taking the C.A.R.E.S. pledge, all YOGC activities will adhere to the latest research on safe rehearsals by the International Coalition of Performing Arts Aerosol Study (Preliminary Results of Performing Arts Aerosol Study)," she explained.