2020 was supposed to be the year of Ludwig van Beethoven as hundreds of orchestras, choruses and chamber music ensembles prepared special concerts commemorating the 250th anniversary of the German composer’s birth. Then, the COVID-19 pandemic shuttered venues around the world.
South Florida audiences won’t miss out on the occasion as Orchestra Miami launches a hybrid live and virtual music festival, “Beethoven for Miami,” in the final weeks of the year.
“We have a LOT of events — everything from piano four hands, family concerts, free symphonic concerts to vocal recitals and chamber music. Everything will be available to view online either via livestream broadcast or on Zoom and Facebook, so everyone can take advantage of the programs, either in person or at home,” said the orchestra’s Founder and Artistic Director Elaine Rinaldi.
Rinaldi emphasized that social distancing and other CDC-recommended precautions will be observed at all live events.
The festival kicked off on Nov. 1 and continues each Sunday at 4 p.m. with piano four hands transcriptions of the composer’s first eight symphonies. The virtual concerts will be available on Zoom and the orchestra’s website.
The festival continues on Sunday, Nov. 8 at 3 p.m. with “Beethoven Lives Upstairs” at Pinecrest Gardens. In this popular program for families, audiences are introduced to Christoph, a young boy living in Vienna, who is distressed because a “madman” has moved upstairs Through a series of letters, dramatically underscored by Beethoven’s music performed by Orchestra Miami, Christoph slowly comes to understand the genius of the man, the torment of his deafness and the beauty of the music.
The performance is directed by Emmy-winning stage director David Grabarkewitz and Orchestra Miami will be conducted by Elaine Rinaldi. In-person tickets are just $5 for children (ages 3-17), $12 for seniors and $15 for adults, and are limited to 150 sold. Online livestream tickets are available for $15 per household.
On Friday, Nov. 13 at 7 p.m., Orchestra Miami will livestream “Beethoven on the Beach: Pastorale” from the North Beach bandshell in Miami Beach. This concert features 38 musicians, conducted by Rinaldi, performing Beethoven’s atmospheric Symphony No. 6 in F Major, “Pastoral,” Op. 68, and Tchaikovsky’s virtuosic Violin Concerto in D Major, Op. 35, with up-and-coming Uzbeki violinist Askar Salimdjanov as soloist.
Three intimate chamber music events round out the festival highlights: “Time for Three” Nov. 21 at Corpus Christi Church in Miami, featuring Beethoven's most enduring chamber work, the "Archduke" Piano Trio in B Flat Major, Op. 97; “Beethoven’s Voice,” Dec. 5 at the Coral Gables Museum, an evening of Beethoven’s lesser-known vocal works sung by two internationally acclaimed opera stars, Elaine Alvarez, soprano and Chad Johnson, tenor; and “Sixes & Sevens,” Dec. 19 at the Coral Gables Women’s Club, featuring soloists from Orchestra Miami performing Beethoven’s Horn Sextet in E Flat Major, Op. 81b, along with the great Septet in E Flat Major, Op. 20. A three-concert chamber music series subscription is available, as well as livestream viewing tickets.
Rinaldi said the Beethoven festival will be extended into 2021 with more performances announced in the coming weeks.
For tickets and a full schedule of Orchestra Miami’s “Beethoven for Miami” music festival, go to OrchestraMiami.org or call 305-274-2103.