‘When we have nothing else, we have music’

Jacksonville Symphony provides live stream performances during quarantine


As the world turned to a halt with the outbreak of the coronavirus, musicians all over the world turn to live streaming to provide a gleam of hope for those in quarantine at home, and the Jacksonville Symphony happens to be one of them.

The symphony’s first stream took place March 14 in Jacoby Symphony Hall at the Times-Union Center for the Performing Arts, with an abbreviated performance of “Give My Regards to Broadway,” featuring the entire orchestra playing tunes from Broadway hits like “Gypsy,” “Chicago” and more.

To greet and thank the online audience, associate conductor Gonzalo Farias gave a moving speech on the impact music brings to the world.

“When we have nothing else, we have music. We find our own tune deep inside. We sing, we play and together, we create a different world. Because inside our hearts, music is never canceled.”

Farias has only been part of the Jacksonville Symphony for six months, but instantly connected with his new orchestra family. 

“It was so interesting,” he said about playing for an audience in an empty room. “Even though there were no people in the audience, we all felt like we were doing something for the community.”

After gathering sizes were limited, the Jacksonville Symphony readapted and followed with a performance from its Percussion Ensemble on March 20 with musicians Kevin Garry, Steven Merrill, Joel Panian and principal timpanist Kenneth Every.  

“As sad as it has been to cancel our shows, this has also been a great opportunity for us,” Every said. “We can reach more people and you can see close-ups of the musicians and different angles that you wouldn’t normally see live.”

Every has been with the Jacksonville Symphony for 27 years and is excited to be able to continue his passion during the crisis. 

“It’s exciting,” he said about the online performances. “We (the symphony) all understand why we’re still here and why we’re doing this. We’re all in it together.”

Farias believes the same, and although he and the rest of the orchestra are saddened to not host any concerts, they’re doing all they can to keep music alive.

“I’ve been very depressed this week. When I’m down, I listen to Beethoven, who was able to create music while living in isolation,” he said. “Music is always going beyond sound. It’s a faith, a magic vehicle that connects the world together. If we nurture it, it will always be here, inside our hearts.”