Fresno Philharmonic returns with free virtual concerts

This Saturday's concert pays tribute to Black History Month and honors the agricultural landscape of the Central Valley.
FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Despite the pandemic and a ban on large gatherings and concerts, one of Central Valley's leading arts organizations is still making beautiful music.

After being forced to cancel in-person concerts last year, the Fresno Philharmonic are now taking its talents online. The professional symphony orchestra is hosting free concerts once a month through April on its YouTube channel and website.

"I think it's really important for the Fresno Philharmonic and for myself to let Fresno know that we are here, and we're not going anywhere and we're going to persevere through all of this. No matter what it takes," said Rei Hotoda, the Fresno Philharmonic Music Director and Conductor.

This Saturday's concert pays tribute to Black History Month and honors the agricultural landscape of the Central Valley.

"We're passionate about racial equity in our programs, and we want to show the diversity of our great city of Fresno as well. And, we want to thank the growers and ranchers for their resiliency during this pandemic this difficult past year," Hotoda said.

Thanks to donors, sponsors, and government loans, the virtual concert series marks the first time many musicians have returned to work since March.

"It was like this incredible reunion to make music together, I mean, there were moments in our recording sessions where we were really so connected and it was the most intense connection we've had all year," said Hotoda.

Stephen Wilson is the organization's president and CEO. He says despite the challenges, the show must go on. "Music is going to be an important part of the healing process and transitioning our community back to normal," Wilson said.

Organizers say going virtual also opens doors for people who previously might not have been able to attend. "It's a really great way to reach out to more of the Fresno community, but also outside of Fresno, all around the world," said Hotoda.

The American Visions: Copland Appalachian Spring concert is on Feb. 20 at 5:30 PM. Viewers will have an opportunity to interact with the conductor through the live chat box. There will also be a recorded version for viewing after the livestream on the Fresno Philharmonic's YouTube.
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