I am excited to introduce myself as the new Executive Director of the Philharmonic Association! COVID-19 presents obvious new and unique challenges to this role, and I pledge to be as creative, communicative, and open to suggestions as I possibly can be for all of our constituents. Most importantly, the Philharmonic Association will move forward this fall, offering quality musical instruction with student and teacher safety in mind.

Many questions are already coming in from parents, students and teachers about our plans for the fall, so I wanted to give a quick update! Auditions will move forward with the dates previously scheduled (August 16-20) but they will be virtual.   Auditions will be held using the Zoom platform for the 2020-2021 season. Students will receive an email with a specified name, number and time to enter the Zoom meeting via email (for example: Cello #14 at 6:15 PM).  After entering the Zoom meeting, the meeting administrator will check sound levels and verify the student’s identity. Once the identity is verified, the video will be turned off with only audio remaining, and the administrator will send the student to a Zoom breakout room to play for at least two judges. Sightreading will be shown on the screen by the judges at the appropriate time. When the audition is finished, students can click “leave meeting”. Scores will be tallied and results sent out as soon as possible.

Audition requirements and excerpts can be viewed on our website and we encourage everyone to sign up as quickly as possible so that we can plan ahead as much as possible for rehearsals (Full orchestra: https://philharmonic-association.org/auditions-registration/ Jazz: https://philharmonic-association.org/regular-season-audition-registration/ Strings: https://philharmonic-association.org/non-auditioned-registration-info/).

Currently, we are looking at many options for each group’s rehearsals. We plan to have a tiered approach, with phases for each group communicated well in advance. The staff are exploring online options, as well as outdoor and indoor spaces in the Cary/Raleigh area with limited capacity. Any in-person meetings will involve social distancing with masks when appropriate. As we get closer to auditions, we will send out surveys, measuring each family’s comfort level and once we know final numbers, communicate the details of our tiered plan for each group. We will consistently offer a virtual option for families concerned, even if small groups are meeting in-person. In-person meetings will not be mandatory this fall. 

Obviously, we hope to return to more normal operations towards the spring! To accomplish this, we will be forming our regular ensembles as we traditionally do, and will transform them into the smaller groups as necessary. We firmly believe ensembles, whether online or in-person, are an important part of musical education, and are planning to make all efforts as creative as possible to ensure a robust and educational experience for all of our students.

Thanks to everyone for the warm welcome I have received so far. We, at the Philharmonic Association, value your participation and support now more than ever! Please let me know if you have any questions or comments regarding our plans (sarahwhitney@philharmonic-association.org), and again, please sign up for auditions as soon as possible so that we can continue to plan for the fall.