Exclusive interview with Conductor Carlos Izcaray on the future of the ASO

ASO Conductor Carlos Izcaray. Photo via the ASO

If you’re a fan of the Alabama Symphony Orchestra like we are here at Bham Now, you may have been wondering what they’re up to right now, and what their plans are for the future. We reached out to Conductor Carlos Izcaray to find out more.

What are you + other conductors around the country hearing about the future of live orchestral music? 

future of the ASO
The Alabama Symphony Orchestra in their happy place. Photo via the ASO

Izcaray: We’re establishing a network of communication among peers, with ears to the ground as we gather reliable information and determine what’s possible in the phases to come.

At the same time, we’re working with our own orchestras and communities to find safe access to both the music and the special social benefits that derive from human interaction in a live orchestral concert.

In the end it’s a balance between hearing about the future and actually helping shape that future with a proactive approach.  

What’s the vision for how to move forward?

future of the ASO
What could be better? Musicians + choir. Photo via the ASO

Izcaray: The ASO is currently exploring a variety of ways that we can implement social distancing in the concert hall as well as conferring with other organizations who are facing the same obstacles.

Some examples are spaced seating, touch-free entry options into the lobby, alternate spaces, digital concerts, and more.

What is the ASO doing right now?

Izcaray: While we are not physically in the concert hall right now we are actively finding new ways to reach our audience virtually. In the past few months, we’ve connected with our audience in a variety of ways through social media and email campaigns. 

  • We have loved sharing #TunefulTuesday videos featuring ASO musicians like Bach’s Sonata in G Minor and The Beatles’ song “Yesterday.”
  • We’ve also enjoyed connecting with our patrons through our Conductor’s Corner series where myself, ASO Principal POPS! Conductor Chris Confessore, and ASO Assistant Conductor Kevin Fitzgerald virtually met with patrons to discuss a variety of subjects that Conductors face. 
  • We keep expanding our virtual content and creating new works for that specific medium.

While students were doing their school work from home our education efforts have continued.

  • Our current Ask Musicians Anything Series offers an inside look into the daily lives of our musicians from their favorite pieces to their hobbies.
  • We also have numerous educational resources available to teachers, students, and parent. These resources include lesson plans, small ensemble performances, and other online tools to help a young musician in your life succeed. 
  • Our organization also recently completed the Tchaik 5K, a virtual 5K in coordination of when the ASO would have performed Tchaikovsky’s Fifth Symphony. It was a great way for our patrons to get out in their community, exercise, and enjoy some of this beautiful weather we’ve been having.

Musicians have performed virtually and in safe environments such as their neighborhoods, or in controlled environments with masks, distance, and other safety measures recommended by UAB and health officials. 

future of the ASO
Adventure Awaits! Graphic for the ASO’s sensory friendly concert via the ASO

We are also preparing for our 20/21 Season that will begin with our Sensory Friendly concert on September 20 at UAB’s Alys Stephens Center.

We are extremely hopeful that we will be able to see our patrons at that time; however, we are keeping a close eye on the advice of CDC officials, UAB, and the Alabama Department of Public Health to do what is best for our musicians, staff, and patrons. If there are any changes to our programming, we will notify patrons later this summer.

What kind of support does the ASO need and how can Birmingham help at this time? 

The 2021 is the ASO Centennial Celebration, so we lined up a fantastic 20/21 Season with exciting programming from Holst’s The Planets, Beethoven’s Emperor Concerto with Van Cliburn Silver Medalist Joyce Yang.

We’re also planning to feature some Alabama-based composers like William Dawson’s Negro Folk Symphony, and more. Single tickets will be on sale later this summer. Visit our website for updates.

Father’s Day is just around the corner—and what would be more perfect than giving Dad the gift of music! ASO gift certificates are available here, or call the box office at 205.975.2787.

As our organization deals with the aftermath of what this pandemic will have on our local economy, we are asking our patrons to help the ASO stay strong by donating. There you can learn how you can help the ASO individually by giving or learn other ways you can help the ASO continue to Change Lives Through Music.

I also want to emphasize that as a leading orchestral ensemble, we are in a position to offer amazing performances no matter what reality we face.

Our amazing musicians have the unique skill of being able to play music from five centuries ago to the newest release, fresh out of the oven. And there’s great music for every mood, space, or circumstance.

So let’s keep communicating via ASO social media and other available channels. I am personally on Instagram, Twitter, and also have a Facebook Page.

A number of our musicians also have very active accounts, displaying their amazing artistry and many other interesting facets of their lives.

We want to hear from you, as we are all part of the strong fabric of Birmingham and Alabama. Together, we can make this ASO Centennial Season a historic celebration for our city and state. 

Follow the ASO on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter or on their website. Follow Carlos Izcaray on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter. And let us know what you’re enjoying the most from the Alabama Symphony Orchestra on social @bhamnow.