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Greensboro Symphony's Pop-Up series offers live music by small ensembles

Greensboro Symphony's Pop-Up series offers live music by small ensembles

GREENSBORO — The COVID-19 pandemic has meant lost gigs and income for visual and performing artists such as musicians Jorge Rodríguez Ochoa and Elizabeth Leddy Ochoa.

"It has been very dire, both economically and emotionally," said Jorge Rodriguez Ochoa, a violinist with the Greensboro Symphony Orchestra.

"As a musician," he said, "I feel the need to perform for an audience member. When you take the audience out of the equation, a connection is lost."

So Rodriguez Ochoa was relieved when the Greensboro Symphony recently started a Pop-Up series, with support from Cone Health.

It takes small ensembles of musicians, ranging from duos to quintets, to performances that follow social distancing and other health and safety guidelines.

Private concerts will be held at several retirement communities in the Triad.

One test public event will be held at 7 p.m. Sunday at SouthEnd Brewing Co., 117-B W. Lewis St. The quartet will perform on the patio for patrons.

Rodriguez Ochoa will be among symphony musicians playing Sunday with the string quartet, along with violinists Alison Lawson and Gregorio Midero and cellist Alex Johnston. 

They will play several songs from the 1950s through today, including Michael Jackson's "Billie Jean" and music from the television series "Game of Thrones."

The pandemic and state restrictions on large gatherings forced the full orchestra to cancel other spring and fall concerts.

The Pop-Up series provides paid gigs for symphony musicians.

"This unique performance opportunity was created to help our many struggling musicians while also serving the community," said Sheila Cauthen, symphony marketing director. 

A duo of symphony musicians performed at River Landing retirement community in Colfax. 

"Each community we have worked with has very strict COVID-19 protocols in place," Cauthen said via email.

"Most of the concerts are either live-streamed to their apartments/homes, or with a limited audience and no interaction," Cauthen said.

Rodriguez Ochoa and his pianist wife, Elizabeth Leddy Ochoa, gave a separate performance at River Landing. 

"They did a great job keeping us as well as the residents safe," Leddy Ochoa said.

Rodriguez Ochoa appreciates the symphony's efforts as musicians reconnect with audiences.

"I personally derive a sense of purpose from doing what I love," he said. "And I do feel that classical music can be a healing force in times of crisis."

Contact Dawn DeCwikiel-Kane at 336-373-5204 and follow @dawndkaneNR on Twitter.

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