MSO’s first season in Bradley Symphony Center will be mostly virtual

The balcony of the symphony center’s 1,650-seat Allen-Bradley Hall. (Photo credit: Scott Paulus)

Last updated on November 20th, 2020 at 02:14 pm

The Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra’s first season in its new home will be largely virtual, with the possibility of some in-person performances if city regulations allow.

Work is nearing completion on the Bradley Symphony Center, and the organization expects to have occupancy by mid-December. But at this point, live performances will be available virtually only when the new season kicks off in January due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Under the current phase of Milwaukee’s public health order, gatherings are limited to 25% of a location’s total occupancy, one person for every 30 square feet of floor space, or 10 people indoors.

MSO announced the lineup for its “reimagined” 2021-’22 season on Thursday, saying there could be opportunities for in-person experiences for current 2020-’21 subscribers if city regulations allow.

“In partnership with our musicians’ union, the construction team at C.D. Smith, and Milwaukee’s public health officials, we are poised to launch the MSO’s reimagined season in a safe environment with rigorous health protocols in place,” the MSO said. “We will also maintain flexibility and transparency as the pandemic evolves, adhering to all local health guidelines, and keeping the health, safety, and well-being of our patrons in mind.”

For new subscribers, the season will be offered as a $200 virtual-only package that includes 12 “Classics” and four “Pops” performances.

“This reimagined season is our answer to how we uphold our commitment to connecting audiences with live, transformative music,” said Mark Niehaus, president and executive director. “Our promise to our patrons is that we will navigate the future together. And we look forward to the day when we can safely welcome everyone into the Bradley Symphony Center and fill every seat in joyous celebration.”

The organization said having complete operational oversight at the new symphony center gives it the ability to ensure “the highest standards of health and safety measures throughout the building.” The MSO has previously held its performances at the Marcus Performances Arts Center, which is also closed to in-person events amid the pandemic.

MSO initially aimed to complete the $139 million renovation of the former Warner Grand Theater by September, but later pushed that date back to January 2021 due to flood damage during a rainstorm and steam tunnel failure in May.

The first event of MSO’s season will be a Classics performances on Jan. 23, called “Welcome Home,” which will feature a half-dozen musicians. A full schedule is available here.

“This season has been intentionally adapted to reflect our current times in the midst of difficult crossroads— of health and safety, of community and inclusion, and of universal connection in moments of strife. This is why music is so essential in our lives—it transports and uplifts us together,” said Ken-David Masur, music director for the MSO. “I have personally curated these new concert experiences, with the help of our artistic team and MSO musicians. We are thrilled to share this inaugural season at the Bradley Symphony Center, and I look forward to speaking from the stage as we present each concert. Even as we adhere to the necessary health and safety guidelines, we will continue to celebrate the power of live music-making.”

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