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Coconcertmaster Emerson Millar in a Naples Philharmonic Sypert Salon Series

The question of whether Artis—Naples has planned a 2020-21 season under the waves of a coronavirus pandemic was answered Thursday: Yes. And no. 

Yes: Intimate, onstage chamber concerts, to be expanded if there’s demand, beginning Oct. 11, and jazz performances, starting shortly thereafter on Oct. 14. Yes, too, to the Naples International Film Festival, coming Oct. 22-25. There will be new Baker Museum exhibitions, including works of Auguste Rodin and of the museum’s favorite son, Dale Chihuly. 

No: The Naples Philharmonic Masterworks Series, at least through Jan. 31. The entire Broadway series of musicals and the familiar Miami City Ballet series also is gone this season. So is its visiting orchestra series, which would have included the Chicago Symphony and the long-awaited Naples debut of the Berlin Philharmonic. 

Previous coverage:Crossed fingers, penciled dates: area orchestras, operas plan tentative seasons

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Detail, "Fire Orange Baskets," Dale Chihuly; Groninger Museum, Groningen, Netherlands; part of the "Dreaming Forms: Chihuly Then and Now" exhibition.

The institution, Collier County’s largest entertainment and arts venue, has begun notifying patrons of its shortened season, although Kathleen van Bergen, CEO and president, said she wants it to be “in momentum.” She is hoping to add individual artists yet this year, she said.

“We are in conversations. But there are a lot of variables in this evolving situation,” she warned. “Right now we do not have anything to announce. We will be making additional announcements, hopefully, early October about some presentation activity.” 

Kevin Mauldin, Naples Philharmonic principal bass, in a concert from the Naples "All That Jazz" series

No Broadway Series, but film fest returns

The loss of the Broadway Series, which was cut off last year before “Come From Away”  and which had included the sleeper hit, “The Band’s Visit,”  for this year, is a blow, she acknowledged. So is the loss of the visiting orchestras, which were to have included the Berlin Philharmonic, longstanding on Artis—Naples’ wish list. 

“The concerts in the visiting orchestras series — they’re special moments, when we share the greatest ensembles in the world with our cultural community here,” she said.  “And just like (with) some of the great Broadway titles, the great dance companies, please rest assured we are in conversations to reschedule these performances as soon as it’s safely possible.”

“It has been a lot of scenario planning, schedule changes — it has been truly a tremendous effort from board, musicians, staff,” van Bergen said of the season that has been determined so far.

“The hardest part is making sure we are confidently opening an environment that is not only safe, but will be an artistic experience that people are craving.”

She’s excited about making the Naples International Film Festival both a virtual and live event, with streamed films and forums to attendees at home, but an outdoor opening and finale. There are plans to bring large screens to the newly opened Norris Garden, a landscaped plaza area with flowing water features.

The festival’s finale is close to the Nov. 1 re-opening of The Baker Museum, and attendees will get a sneak preview of works that are being installed in the garden for its “Dreaming Forms: Chihuly Then and Now” exhibition.

The new landscaped Norris Garden between The Baker Museum and Hayes Hall will be the site for the finale of the Naples International Film Festival and will hold part of the "Dreaming Forms: Chihuly Then and Now" exhibition.

Three series stay the course

The pandemic has been draining financially. Even with money from the federal Paycheck Protection Program, the entire institution has worked through rolling furloughs, van Bergen said. She said she has taken a salary cut instead so she could continue on the job. Philharmonic musicians agreed to a modified contract for the coming season. 

Among its provisions are plans for streaming concerts, to allow virtual performances for Collier County Public Schools.

“Because there’s no safe way for them to travel in field trips this fall, it is a priority for us to make sure the students of Collier County experience the sounds of the Naples Philharmonic,” van Bergen said. That includes, as technology allows, engagement between students and the philharmonic about the music.

There are possibilities, but no current plans, for streaming concerts onto screens in the Norris Garden between Hayes Hall and The Baker Museum. 

The Wang Chamber Series, All That Jazz and the Sypert Series will continue on their original dates for the season, although the programs may change. There’s also a possibility for added concerts in those series if demand warrants.

 “The whole idea is an evolving situation, and based on government guidelines, Department of Health regulations, CDC, when we can add safely, we will,” van Bergen said. “Part of this is we want to make sure we are moving comfortably with the musicians onstage and have the trust of the audience who is attending.”

To keep seating distanced, concerts have been moved from the 283-seat Daniels Pavilion to the 1,473-seat Hayes Hall. There, around 85 people will be spaced onstage around the musicians for the two chamber music series: “Instead of feeling like we have fewer people in the Daniels Pavilion, we’ll feel like we have a true chamber environment,” van Bergen explained. 

"Despairing Adolescent," Musée Rodin cast, bronze, 1975, of sculpture by Auguste Rodin, modeled 1882; lent by Iris Cantor for the "Rodin: Truth Form Life" exhibition

It has another advantage: Socially distanced seating in the Daniels Pavilion would only allow an audience of 50. The jazz concerts will have a slightly larger audience with distanced seats because they will use the hall’s seating.

Artis—Naples Music Director Andrey Boreyko, who has been conducting in Poland over the summer, is participating by video meeting, with the difficulties of getting to and from the United States. 

“He is with us in spirit,” van Bergen said. “Once we can safely look forward to his return, we look forward to that as well.”

Harriet Howard Heithaus covers arts and entertainment for the Naples Daily News/ Reach her at 239-213-6091.

For ticket information

Patrons who have bought season tickets or who want exchanges or refunds can call 239-597-1900 or email Any remaining single tickets for the Sypert Salon, Wang Chamber Music and All That Jazz series tickets go on sale to the public Oct. 7.