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'We're coming back home': Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra returns to Bass Hall for first time since pandemic began

The last time the orchestra played symphonically in Bass Hall in front of a packed capacity crowd was March 2020.

FORT WORTH, Texas — The Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra will be back playing its first symphonic concerts at Bass Performance Hall this weekend, in front of a whole capacity crowd for the first time since March 2020. 

Since the pandemic, the orchestra has been performing, but not at Bass Hall, which is the group's regular home. 

Concerts were happening at the Will Rogers Coliseum, but crowds were limited, and orchestra players were seated apart during performances for most shows. 

Masks were also required. Ergo, Friday night's opening symphonic series performance will be exceptional for both the orchestra and season ticket holders alike. 

"Back in March 2020, Tarrant County closed Bass Hall, and that's the last time we've been able to rehearse or perform here," Keith Cerny, president and CEO of the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra said. 

"We're coming back home." 

COVID-19 has not been kind to the performing arts. Still, luckily, Cerny said that the orchestra has avoided layoffs and has maintained its revenue by continuing to play at a different venue. 

The orchestra has already played five concerts at Bass Hall, starting weeks ago, but Friday night's concert will be the first official core symphonic performance since returning.  

Orchestra players will not be spaced apart but will be required to wear masks for appropriate musicians. Audience members must wear masks too. 

Cerny said at some previous concerts--it was hard for the musicians to hear one another because they were spaced apart and were between vinyl shields. 

"Players now will be shoulder to shoulder like they normally would be," Cerny said. 

Opening shows will be played through the weekend, and tickets are available. 

Renowned violinist Ray Chen is performing as a guest soloist. He says that it's been a treat to play in a symphonic capacity with other players finally. 

Not to mention, he's excited to be in front of an entire audience. 

"Everyone's just happy to be back," Chen said. "It's like a celebration. There were no live shows, and you're just sitting around wondering what you're going to do? I usually play 100 concerts a year, so it was nice to sit back, but after that, you start wondering what you're going to do." 

COVID-19 hasn't just been a hurdle to get back into Bass Hall; it's also kept the orchestra from inviting musicians from overseas to play as guests. 

There's a lot of red tape involved with visas and traveling currently, making it a challenge to bring in German conductor Kevin John Edusei for opening night. 

"I'm very thankful that the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra's administration did all the hoop-jumping that was necessary to get me from Germany here to Fort Worth, Texas," Edusei said. 

"We're going to have a great concert. It's so hard to find a good sound, ensemble playing, you know? And here it's like, this is home. This is good."