Atlanta annual student chamber music competition goes virtual

When social distancing requirements canceled the planned live Chamber Music Competition at Spivey Hall over Memorial Day Weekend, Franklin Pond Chamber Music decided to forge on, blaze a new path, and go all virtual.

This weekend’s statewide competition is doing what no other organization in the nation has yet endeavored to try: a completely socially-distanced chamber music competition. All high school and college student finalists throughout Georgia, have undertaken the monumental task of rehearsing and recording chamber music, all while staying miles apart in their own homes.

The competition will begin with the Finalists Showcase at 2 p.m. Sunday, May 24, broadcast on YouTube Live. Here, viewers can watch full performances and interviews by each of the eight finalist ensembles.

The culminating event, the Competition Awards Show, will be broadcast at 4 p.m. Sunday, May 24.

Pianist Alpin Hong will serve as master of ceremonies. The internationally distinguished panel of judges--including Carlos Izcaray, Music Director of the Alabama Symphony Orchestra, Richard Roberts, Concertmaster of the Montreal Symphony Orchestra, and Elizabeth Pridgen, concert pianist and Artistic Director of Atlanta Chamber Players--will discuss music in the time of COVID-19.

The Franklin Pond faculty, all members of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, will present their own socially distanced performance.

“It’s a little bit like the Met Gala meets The Voice, with incredibly talented young artists headlining the event,” said Competition Manager Ginny Fairchild. “Although coronavirus deprived our young finalists of a live performance at Spivey Hall, this socially distanced platform has actually provided new opportunities and positive learning experiences that we can all take with us into the future—students and professionals alike.”

“The process of recording a chamber ensemble from multiple locations is incredibly musically challenging and technologically demanding. Even though the resulting recording may look effortless and fun, it took hours upon hours of work to achieve that objective,” said Ronda Respess, ASO violinist and founder of Franklin Pond. “Seeing these young musicians accomplish what is hard for even the most seasoned professional to do is powerful and inspiring.”

New this year, and due to college musicians either home or more available, Franklin Pond expanded their competitive divisions to include College Alumni. Both the High School and College Alumni categories will compete for cash prizes and recognition.