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NYC non-profit helps classical music diversify

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When most live music venues were shut down due to the coronavirus pandemic a year ago, one non-profit organization in New York City saw an opportunity to grow its audience online -- and make it more diverse in the process.

Video Transcript

LIZ CHO: When most live music venues were shut down because of the pandemic a year ago, one nonprofit organization here in the city saw an opportunity to grow its audience online and make it more diverse in the process. Entertainment reporter Sandy Kenyon has more. Sandy?

SANDY KENYON: Liz, the orchestra of St. Luke's has been around since the 1970s. But the group has really flourished since the opening of its DiMenna Center in Manhattan a decade ago. Now to celebrate the 10th anniversary, the organization has been using that facility to create new programs, stream them online, and confront this unique time in our history.

TEJU COLE: They were under the scourge of a visitation.

SANDY KENYON: The pandemic as a fable, written and spoken by a Renaissance man, who also selected the music that accompanies him.

[MUSIC PLAYING]

Harvard professor Teju Cole is part of an online series called "Sounds and Stories" hosted by David Hyde Pierce.

DAVID HYDE PIERCE: It just shows that there are no limits. And whatever people expect from the classical music world, they can be surprised and will be surprised.

[MUSIC PLAYING]

SANDY KENYON: The orchestra of St. Luke's operates out of a state-of-the-art studio in Hell's Kitchen, 20,000 square feet packed with the latest equipment.

JAMES ROE: There's not been a time of innovation in our field like this since maybe when radio was invented and when recorded sound were invented.

SANDY KENYON: And this nonprofit group used the time of the pandemic to explore new opportunities online, while so many folks were stuck at home.

JAMES ROE: People who are so eager for some kind of connection. And we wanted to make a concert experience-- a musical experience for them that wasn't just taking something that was on the stage and squeezing it through the internet into someone's computer screen.

SANDY KENYON: This is almost better than having a front-row seat at a live concert. And the best part? It's not expensive.

JAMES ROE: You know, you can pay $1 and watch this. It allows the kind of diversity of audience that we all believe so deeply in.

[MUSIC PLAYING]

SANDY KENYON: A shared objective then in the field of classical music that has often lagged behind in efforts to diversify the arts. The episode of "Sounds and Stories" you saw previewed in our story is streaming tonight. And yes, you can pay as little as $1. Details are on our website ABC7 NY. Dave and Liz.

DAVID NOVARRO: Thank you. Sounds like a deal.

LIZ CHO: Yeah, it really does.

DAVID NOVARRO: Thanks a lot. All right.

LIZ CHO: Thanks, Sandy.