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Well, Hello Meany!
On October 13, 2021, we opened our doors to live performances for the first time in 19 months, welcoming pianist Conrad Tao and 237 audience members! Two days later, we did it again, this time with Danish String Quartet taking the stage before 369 chamber music lovers. And we closed our fall performances on November 6, with Gabriel Kahane performing a “work in progress” commissioned by Meany Center for a very appreciative audience of 169.
We expected attendance for these shows to be lower than usual — and so far, the numbers have borne us out. What we could not have predicted, however, was just how powerfully audiences, artists and staff have been moved by once again experiencing performing arts as they were meant to be: together, live, in a shared space.
As Joni Mitchell famously sang: “You don’t know what you’ve got ‘til it’s gone”— the past 19 months have served to remind us just how special live performances are.
Introducing that opening night performance by Conrad Tao, Meany Center Executive and Artistic Director Michelle Witt was nearly in tears — and she wasn’t the only one! For the artist himself, being able to premiere a new work (co-commissioned by Meany Center) on our stage was, in Tao’s words, “a dream premiere experience.” And Meany audiences have been equally enthusiastic:
“I wanted to let you know that I very much appreciate you all bringing Mr. Tao to Meany and co-commissioning Keyed In. What a magnificent talent and equally magnificent recital. … I think that this is an important and completely original work. … Thank you for your ongoing efforts at Meany and I believe that this recital was a milestone.”
“Our return to Meany Hall on Friday to hear the Danish String Quartet was nothing short of magical. The long-awaited opportunity to hear live ensemble music lifted the spirits of everyone in the house. I left the hall in a state of revelry that lasted for hours; days. The generosity of the quartet to play the elongated program straight through was a testament to the efforts you and your staff put into making that night happen after 19 months of the necessary yet painful pause needed to keep performers and the recipients of their beautiful music safe.”
“Sincere thanks to you and everyone with whom you work who made that night happen. The performance was absolutely brilliant.”
We realize, of course, that not everyone who loves the performing arts is ready or able to return to Meany yet. So, for those friends and patrons, we provided the opportunity to watch the performances from the safety of their own homes via livestream. We were touched by the response:
“It was safer for me to watch the performance on line. It was a marvelous performance, and I loved every minute of it! Thank you for allowing those of us who are older and have co morbidities to watch by live stream rather than in person.”
“I am so thankful for your livestreaming options! We have come off and on and in the past have even brought friends — but with everything going on this year they just couldn’t risk it. [We] are both so thankful to you and please tell everyone else!
“I almost had a card out to write a thank you to all of you at Meany last night. For piano it was wonderful photography.”
We plan to continue presenting live performances for the rest of this season — our Dance Series launches on January 20 with the extraordinary STREB EXTREME ACTION — and we will continue to put the safety of our artists and audiences first and foremost.
We look forward to having you all “back where you belong” whenever you’re ready to join us. And if that’s not possible for you this year, we’ll continue to offer livestream options for most performances.