Nick Dobreff
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A Season To Remember

Colorado Symphony reaches new heights despite pandemic-shortened 2019/20 Season

By Nick Dobreff

“Art is an effort to create, beside the real world, a more humane world.” - Andre Maurois 

A thriving city is only as strong as its cultural institutions, providing art, culture, and education to communities eager for extraordinary, unforgettable experiences that resonate for years to come. These cultural institutions make considerable and necessary contributions to the well-being of our communities, assisting in the development of people’s creative learning, while creating empowered, educated societies, and inspiring the next generation of artists.

The Colorado Symphony has been a cultural cornerstone in Denver for nearly 100 years, and the 2019/20 season expanded the orchestra's presence to projected record-breaking numbers, as 276,466 patrons enjoyed live symphonic music, despite COVID-19 shuttering performance capabilities for nearly 25% of the operating year.  

As a not-for-profit organization, the Colorado Symphony relies heavily on community support to thrive, with contributed revenue accounting for nearly half of the operating budget. That funding has become even more vital now as the organization strives to survive despite limited capabilities to perform live in public with an audience. These generous gifts fund: 

The Colorado Symphony’s Musicurious Educational programming experienced a record-breaking year during the 2019/20 season, as 30,646 students participated in youth concerts both in Boettcher Concert Hall and through in-school programming, a 15% increase from the 2018/19 season, despite losing nearly a month of activities due to COVID-19. Youth Concerts specifically saw a 42% increase from the 2018/19 season, which was the largest turnout for Youth Concerts since 2013.  

The 2019/20 concert season kicked off with an incredible summer slate which featured a host of incredible, sold-out performances at Red Rocks Amphitheatre including two nights with One Republic, and single evenings with Tenacious D, John Prine, Bela Fleck and the Flecktones, "Weird Al" Yankovic, Josh Groban, a symphonic tribute to Prince, Pink Martini, and  Mary Chapin Carpenter.  

The orchestra also performed throughout Colorado, bringing the beloved Mozart under Moonlight concerts to the Arvada Center, the Dillon Amphitheater, and the University of Northern Colorado's new Campus Commons Performance Hall in Greely. And to cap off the summer season, the orchestra and members of the Colorado Symphony Chorus returned to the Pepsi Center for a performance with the legendary vocalist Andre Bocelli.  

Film and free community concerts expanded our summer reach to over 100,000 people, due in large part to our celebratory return to Civic Center Park for the 10th Anniversary of Independence Eve - Colorado's largest free outdoor concert event, which saw the orchestra perform for more than 90,000 people.  

Upon returning to Boettcher Concert Hall in September, audiences were treated to performances alongside some of the world’s most renowned vocalists including Tony®, Emmy®, and GRAMMY® Award-winner Cynthia Erivo, Emmy® and Tony® Award-winner Kristin Chenoweth, 10-time GRAMMY® Award-winner Bobby McFerrin, and GRAMMY® Award-winning soprano Renée Fleming.  

In addition, the Colorado Symphony celebrated the Yumi Hwang-Williams' 20th Season as Concertmaster, opening the 2019/20 Classics calendar with her as featured soloist on Mendelssohn's Violin Concerto at Boettcher Concert Hall.

The Colorado Symphony also collaborated with a host of Denver cultural peers including Cleo Parker Robinson Dance, Colorado Ballet, Opera Colorado, Denver Zoo, the Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday Commission, and the Mexican Cultural Center. Planned collaborations with the Clyfford Still Museum, the Montrose Pavilion, and others, were forced to be cancelled by the pandemic.

The abrupt and sudden onset of COVID-19 forced the cancellation of over 15 titles totaling 30 events including our largest annual fundraiser, the Colorado Symphony Ball. Faced with the difficult prospect of not being able to perform in person for the foreseeable future, the Colorado Symphony pivoted to bringing virtual content into the homes of Denverites and people around the world with the #PlayOn campaign — a series of over 70 online videos featuring Colorado Symphony musicians. 

The Colorado Symphony has thrived in creating virtual content, garnering over 1.5 million views of organic content with millions more through NBC, ABC, CNN and more as the organization provided open content sharing for broadcasts throughout the pandemic.  

As the Colorado Symphony moves into a new decade and grapples with the challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic, there exists a renewed sense of mission to debunk the myth that symphonic music is only for those of a certain age, a certain demographic, or a certain socioeconomic status. With the support of this community, the orchestra is being heard by more people than ever before and the future of symphonic music has never looked brighter.

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