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MADISON – The Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra (WCO) has unveiled a new plan for its 2020 Concerts on the Square series, which involves postponing the first four concerts and replacing them with two drive-in performances. Additionally, they’re planning for two live concerts at Breese Stevens Field if playing outdoors is deemed safe in late summer.
The revised approach was necessary to keep attendees safe, while adhering to state and county requirements that don’t allow for large gatherings. The WCO will follow Forward Dane Health Guidelines to determine if the live concerts can occur. A decision will be made in late July.
“We were optimistic in April that if we only delayed the start of Concerts on the Square to late-July that we could still hold live performances downtown,” said Joe Loehnis, WCO’s CEO. “But, as the pandemic continues to affect us all in ways we never could have foreseen, we’ve decided to take creative steps now that will allow us to still share music with our community.”
The new plan for Concerts on the Square looks like this:
- The first four shows (July 28 – Aug 18) have been postponed into summer of 2021.
- The WCO, in partnership with the Madison Mallards, will host two “drive-in” concerts on June 24 and July 22 (more information below). Each concert also will be livestreamed on wcoconcerts.org and PBSWisconsin.org for free.
- The final two Concerts on the Square will be live concerts at Breese Stevens Field on Aug. 25 and Sept. 1.
- The WCO’s annual ‘runout’ concert to Portage this summer has been canceled.
Drive-in Concerts on the Square
The two drive-in concerts will feature rebroadcasts of the most popular Concerts on the Square performances, thanks to a partnership with PBS Wisconsin. The WCO expects to be able to have 115 vehicles at each concert. The goal is to make it accessible to as many people as possible without risking health and safety.
The basics for each program are:
Location: Warner Park, 2930 N. Sherman Ave., Madison
Cost: $25 per car
Time: 7-8 p.m.; 8:45-9:45 p.m. (two showings each night to allow more people to attend)
Additional information: To purchase tickets, visit:
June 24 – “S Wonderful” with Amanda Huddleston, soprano, and Andrew Clark, tenor. Songs include: The Sound of Music Medley, Smoke Gets in Your Eyes, Armed Forces Salute & 1812 Overture. (2015 Performance)
July 22 – “Film Night”, featuring concertmaster Suzanne Beia. Songs include: The Magnificent Seven, The Pink Panther, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Schindler's List, and E.T. (2019 Performance)
“With two showings each night, we’re trying to make the concerts as accessible as possible,” Loehnis said. “Community partnerships are so important right now, and because of PBS Wisconsin and the Mallards, we’re able to bring this idea to life. We are grateful for these partnerships.”
Breese Stevens Concerts planned for late summer
If Dane County has entered phase III of its Forward Dane plan by late August, 250 people will be allowed to gather for outdoor events. For that reason, the WCO is planning to host two live Concerts on the Square at Breese Stevens. The WCO will provide an update later in July on progress for this opportunity.
Those shows currently are scheduled for 8/25 and 9/1. The WCO also is considering how it could broadcast the live performances to other venues like the Alliant Energy Center, Warner Park, or Madison parks, where others could view the concerts safely.
“We’re still working through the logistics, and we’re realists – understanding that the situation changes almost daily,” Loehnis said. “But, we also want to be forward thinking and we’re going to keep pushing ahead unless we don’t believe a live show can be held safely.”