Instead of the crack of a bat, visitors to ONEOK Field will hear music by Mozart, Bruch and Brahms when the Tulsa Symphony Orchestra plays there Oct. 18.
Keith Elder, executive director of Tulsa Symphony, was anxious to find a way to get the orchestra together and performing again when it was forced to cancel all upcoming shows and rehearsals in March due to COVID-19.
“We felt it was so important to keep live music in Tulsa, so we were thinking, how can we be responsible and safe?” Elder says. “The big things are masking, social distancing, washing your hands, and being outdoors is better than indoors.”
Elder realized the Drillers were already playing at ONEOK Field to a socially distanced audience, so the ballpark was a perfect fit for TSO’s shows. The first one Sept. 5 celebrated Beethoven’s 250th birthday.
Masks are required to attend performances, and only 1,600 of ONEOK’s 9,000 seats are available because of social distancing.
“It’s going to be a really accessible concert for the audience to be able to go to a ballpark and relax,” Elder says. “You don’t have to feel all stuffy. You can come in shorts if you’d like. You can come in a sport coat if you like. You can come in a T-shirt if you like. The only thing we ask is everybody has to come with masks.”
The orchestra is ready to perform again, even if members will remain 6 feet apart on the field. Elder explains how the musicians being separated presents its own set of challenges, like hearing the instruments on the other side of the field, and even turning the pages on their sheet music while playing.
“(The Sept. 5 show was) their first performance since everything went down,” Elder says. “It’s so important for this community. We, as an orchestra, believe that we’re a community service organization and not just an entertainment organization, meaning music brings people together, and it touches people.
Even at 6 feet apart, we’re bringing people together and bringing a community together with this concert.”
Tickets for the 3 p.m. show can be purchased at tulsasymphony.org.