Honk if you love Space Coast Symphony’s drive-in concerts!

With its Summer Drive-in Concert Series, the Space Coast Symphony Orchestra has devised an innovative way to bring music to the community. The first of three programs was held on a recent Friday evening in the parking lot of the Pathway Church in Vero Beach and that Saturday at the Avenue Viera in Brevard County.

“I was looking for ways to support our musicians and, of course, to perform for the community,” said Aaron Collins, SCSO conductor and artistic director, noting that musicians have been unable to secure income from performances since shutdowns began in March.

Early on, they began a Musicians at Home series, where musicians submitted instrumental videos of themselves, which were posted online. Viewers could leave ‘tips’ that went directly to the musicians.

“That went great. It was a way to help support them, but I wanted to find a way that we could perform together,” said Collins. “That’s where the drive-in concert popped up.”

He recalled going to a drive-in movie as a child and thought it would be a safe way to hold a concert.

Collins said the initial two concerts had great attendance and were blissfully rain free. Based on the number of cars, they estimate having roughly 750 people in Vero and 1,000 people in Brevard.

“There were a few things that we learned as far as getting any kinks out of the system, but for the most part they went really well and were well received,” said Collins. “The concerts were good, the musicians got to make some money and we’re excited about doing our next one, the Patriotic Concert.”

To keep everyone safe, indoor rehearsals were held with about three times the normal amount of spacing and players whose instruments didn’t require using their mouths wore face masks.

For the performances, they continued with some spacing among the musicians and felt that being outdoors would add to the safety. Many of the patrons remained in their cars, while others brought lawn chairs to sit up front or alongside their vehicles.

“The way the cases are rising here in Florida we just want to be as safe as possible. I think we accomplished that for the most part,” said Collins. “Last thing we wanted is to have a musician or any of our patrons somehow contract coronavirus by attending one of our concerts.”

Volunteers helped with the parking, which he said went very smoothly, and took tickets once cars were in place.

“I was really worried that there would be hiccups in that process since it was our first time, but somehow our volunteers managed to do it. I think we will figure out new configurations for Vero so people can see better, but overall it was great.”

There were also some issues with the program’s live streaming into car radios but, he said, each concert is a learning process.

Encouraging everyone to support their favorite arts organizations, he added, “there are so many groups that are struggling. So take an organization that’s near and dear to your heart and send them a donation or send them some love somehow.”

Upcoming Friday Vero Beach concerts are Aug. 14 and Aug. 28. All are at 7 p.m. at Pathway Church. Tickets are $10 per person or $25 per carload; free for students with ID.

For tickets or more information, visit spacecoastsymphony.org.

Photos by: Brenda Ahearn Kaila Jones
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