Our 2020 Reflections

Each year as December comes to an end, we take time to look back at all that we’ve accomplished throughout the year. This year, a year like no other, full of event cancellations, Zoom meetings, re-imagined concert formats, and so much hand-sanitizer (shout out to our friends at Watershed Distillery for hooking us up), we would be remiss to not take the opportunity to reflect back. We asked our staff, musicians, and Board to share with us a reflection from 2020—whether it be a highlight or favorite moment, a discovered silver-lining from the pandemic, or their greatest challenge encountered…because hey, it has been a challenging year, to say the least. Please take a moment to read what they’ve said:


“It has certainly been an unusual year at ProMusica! But despite all the challenges we still found ways to keep bringing music to people. A highlight for me was our Gahanna “Drive-in” concerts during SummerFEST. I remember standing near the back of the parking lot during the concert taking everything in. It was a perfect night, and everyone was excited to be there – musicians being able to perform, and the audience hearing live music again. It was incredible to think that our “small but mighty” ProMusica team was able to take an empty parking lot and create this kind of an experience.” – Matt Kurk, Director of Advancement & Engagement


“The highlight of my year was getting to play with everyone again this summer and fall after the shutdowns. It was so wonderful to see and play with friends and receive the enthusiastic feedback from the audience – whether it was from applause or car horn honks. Everyone is excited to be back and giving all they’ve got. I remember that for my first rehearsal of the summer, I was playing in a reed trio with Rachael and Ilya. We were working so hard and having so much fun that we forgot to take a break, and Mariana had to tell us to stop at the end of the day. We love making music, and we love performing. Thanks to everyone who made this year possible!” – Jessica Smithorn, oboe


“2020 has been a challenging year for everyone, and certainly the arts have felt the impact of the pandemic profoundly. In this time of isolation and anxiety, never have we more needed the sense of shared experience, emotional expression, and transformative power that the arts provide. In reflecting over these past 9 months, I feel incredibly proud and lucky to be part of an organization that is willing to meet these extraordinary challenges in order to continue bringing people together and serve as a beacon of light in dark times.” – Katie McLin, concertmaster


“My favorite moment of 2020 was sitting down on stage for my first rehearsal with ProMusica in September and hearing the sound of my amazing colleagues and friends playing all around me after not hearing any live music for months. It was such a joyful and moving experience for me!” – Mary Harris, principal viola


“Without a doubt, my biggest challenge during the past several months has been accommodating my broken right arm. Never mind how it happened (!), I was unable to do the one thing I love more than anything else and which connects me to ProMusica: play my cello. Of course, being right-arm dominant, neither was I able to do so many of the other things we take for granted being out of commission for about 10 weeks. It also forced me to miss the November series, the only strings-related concert since the summer series, so that was doubly tough. I’m happy to report, however, that the old arm is healing, albeit s-l-o-w-l-y, and I am finally playing again. I am so very grateful to be associated with ProMusica, with all its support and magnificent staff and am even more grateful to have such an institution to return to in 2021. Sadly, too many won’t have such luxury. I promise to be back in Columbus whenever Janet gives us the green light. Can’t. Wait!” – Marc Moskovitz, principal cello


“Highlight/favorite moment: Chamber music à la drive-in movie, complete with car horns for applause.” – Kathy Sullivan, Board of Trustees


“This is kind of simple, but I’ve not listened to ProMusica other than at live performances. It’s been nice to have been able to listen to concerts broadcast on WOSU Classical 1010 and otherwise, from home.” – Brent Jackson, Board of Trustees


“My favorite moment in this highly unusual year happened while we were preparing for SummerFEST: as a staff, we caravanned around town to make site visits to our SummerFEST locations, all of which were brand new to us. It was great to be together (socially distanced of course!) and exciting to be planning for live performances again.” – Margaret Wells, Executive Assistant & Board Liaison


“I had almost forgotten that 2020 included a spectacular evening with Tony Award Winner Renee Elise Goldsberry. It was a joyful and community unifying concert that helped allow an audience that represented many parts of Columbus to enjoy the Southern Theater together. Others will have many examples of music at new venues including The Fives. Any concert that includes an ambulatory bassoon solo from Ellen Connors, self-accompanied by Bananagrams percussion is worthy of mention as evidence of both virtuosity, dauntless enthusiasm, and innovation on the part of our musicians.” – Lee Shackelford, Board of Trustees


“Favorite moment of 2020 – Can you believe there was not a single drop of rain during our SummerFEST concerts? Our good fortune extended to two community concerts we presented alongside SummerFEST. Our brass quintet’s performance at Wesley Glen Retirement Community for a group of over seventy senior citizens, masked and socially spaced apart outside on the back patio, garnered many tapping toes and our woodwind trio’s lilting tunes carried over to the ears of our friends at I Am Boundless who clapped along merrily. For many, including some of our musicians, this was their first live music performance since the start of the pandemic. Their grateful grins and cheery thanks were some of my brightest memories of 2020.” – Ann Kriewall, Operations & Community Outreach Coordinator


“It goes without saying – but I will say it – that 2020 was a very challenging year for all arts organizations including ProMusica. We started the year with great momentum heading toward the culmination of one of our best seasons ever – artistically and by every other measure. But that season ended with the cancellation of three consecutive concerts based on public safety concerns. My most memorable moment happened after that. The organization spent the next few months figuring out how to play safely and created SummerFEST. After about 6 months of sheltering in place, I vividly recall when I heard the first live notes played at The Fives in September. It literally choked me up, brought tears to my eyes and reminded me just how powerful live music is and how important ProMusica is to our community.” – Bill Faust, Board President


“If I had to sum up 2020 in one word it would be FLEXIBILITY. Once Covid hit in March, everything changed. We moved to working from home, and then we canceled our April concert, then our May, then our June. Throughout all of it, we adapted, and we didn’t know what was going to happen next. Then summer arrived, and our annual Summer Music Series seemed like a real probability. Once we discovered that we couldn’t hold it in our typical format at Franklin Park Conservatory & Botanical Gardens like we usually do, we had to be flexible. We had to explore new venues, think outside of the box in how we could safely put on concerts for our patrons (who came to our drive-ins in Gahanna?), keep our musicians safe, and basically reimagine the entire concert production scenario. There was a LOT of sanitizing, let me tell you. In the end, our team was able to pull off a 2 week SummerFEST with minimal prep time, and by far it was the hardest but most rewarding thing I have ever done in my professional career. How did we do it? We remained flexible. With every “no” and every closed door that we faced we simply turned another direction, had another idea, carved another path. Flexibility allowed us to safely put on concerts during a pandemic and keep ProMusica alive. I think we can learn a lot from 2020 in how the impossible can suddenly be possible. You just have to remain flexible.” – Mariana Szalaj, Orchestra & Operations Manager


See you in 2021! ????