Fairmont Chamber Music Society preps for its post-COVID season

·3 min read

Jul. 22—FAIRMONT — The Fairmont Chamber Music Society was founded to bring culture to Marion County. Now, in its 40th year, the society is needed more than ever.

Chamber Music Society Board President Brenda Giannis addressed the Marion County School Board Monday night explaining the organization wants to restart — to a limited degree — its music programs for students during the 2021-22 school year.

In previous years, the society staged performances for Marion County students at Saint Peter the Fisherman Catholic Church in downtown Fairmont. When COVID-19 shut down everything in the spring of 2020, the society had to cancel its concerts for the 2020 season, including plans to bring music to the schools in the county.

In 2016, the Marion County Board of Education began funding the society to provide tickets to the various concerts the society organized for all choir and band students, their parents and teachers. This program is still ongoing.

In fall 2019, a grant funded a six-concert tour in several Marion County schools featuring Peter Willison and Eric Clay.

"In two days those two went into six schools in the North Marion attendance area," Giannis said. "The kids went crazy."

COVID concerns cut concerts short both in schools and the society's usual programming.

"I felt so bad for the artists everywhere," Giannis said. "We had to reschedule everything and we did reschedule all our concerts that were cancelled."

Now, as restrictions lift and parents hope for a fully-open fall term, the society is going to let the students get back into their groove before holding in-school concerts. Other than a make-up concert in September for North Marion High that was canceled in 2020, there are no new concerts planned in the schools.

"We are not going to schedule any other [school] concerts this year other than that make-up concert," Giannis said. "The kids need to get back in the swing of things so we're postponing that for another year."

While the chamber music society is taking a break from the schools, its normal Sunday concert programming for the 2021-2022 season is on track.

This year's first concert will be held on Sept. 26 at 3 p.m. featuring Ronn McFarlane and Carolyn Surrick, a duet that plays the lute and viola da gamba, respectively.

November 14 will bring Ensemble Schumann, an oboe, viola and piano trio. February 27, 2022, Corina Marti, an internationally acclaimed harpsichordist, will perform. Last of the four performances will be Trio Confero, a clarinet, cello and piano trio on March 27, 2022.

"It feels really good to get back to live music," Giannis said.

Mary Jo Thomas, president of the Marion County School Board and an avid attendee of the society's concerts, was excited to hear the concerts will be making a comeback.

"I can't even imagine the world without music," Thomas said. "I truly applaud the chamber for keeping the genre of music alive."

All of the society's concerts are open to the public. Tickets are $10 at the door or $6 for students and senior citizens. Subscription packages are also available where tickets to all four concerts can be purchased in advance for $30 or $18 for students and seniors.

"It's something for all ages," Thomas said. "You can find people from 9 [years-old] to 100 enjoying the music together — that's something special."

Reach David Kirk at 304-367-2522 or by email at dkirk@timeswv.com.

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