After 22 months of silence, the Idaho Falls Symphony is excited to return live to the stage and make some noise.

The Idaho Falls Symphony will have a free concert 7 p.m. Dec. 2 at the Civic Center for the Performing Arts, 501 S. Holmes Ave in Idaho Falls. Following that, there will be a paid concert at 7:30 p.m. Dec. 11 at the Civic Center.

The first performance features the Idaho Falls Symphony Youth Orchestra’s Winter Concert. This is the first symphony concert in 22 months.

“We are so excited for live audiences. It’s incredibly meaningful for the musicians, the staff … everyone is excited to get going to concerts again,” said Thomas Heuser, the symphony’s music director.

Students started practicing for the concert in September. They have endured some challenges.

“We had a number of new students join the group after a year off from COVID,” Heuser said. “The students had a lot to get used to — performing in masks, (and) there were new administrative requirements, like vaccines and testing.”

Despite these adjustments, students in the youth orchestra have been rising to the occasion.

“Our spirit was indomitable as a unit,” said Christine Hutchings, director of the youth orchestra.

Hutchings has been impressed by the students’ “level of musicianship.”

“To experience that, standing and rehearsing in front of this group of musicians was just phenomenal,” Hutchings said.

Hutchings is excited to bring the talents of the students to a live audience.

“(As musicians), we like to share our gift,” Hutchings said. “And that’s where it’s really special, is when we can share it, and now we get to. … The program’s fantastic.”

The youth orchestra’s program features music by Bach and pieces from Andrew Lloyd Webber’s “The Phantom of the Opera,” among other musical compositions.

Heuser will conduct the Idaho Falls Symphony on Dec. 11 as it performs alongside “The Snowman,” an animated holiday film. The symphony will provide live music.

According to Heuser, the secret to conducting a film score beside a movie is all in the timing.

“You just learn all the timings, you direct the orchestra to play when the films needs you to play it there,” Heuser said. “And you just get used to it. It’s a really fun process to accompany a live movie.”

Heuser is the only one watching the screen. That way, the orchestra members can focus on the music they’re playing.

“So, by freeing (the symphony) up, then they can sort of appreciate that the audience reaction is what it’s all about, so they really feel that they’re acting out the characters,” Heuser said. “Especially in the case of a silent film, they really get into the idea that the sounds they’re making are … related to the music.”

After intermission, the symphony will perform “Baroque Delights.”

“For me, Baroque music always makes me think of the holiday season,” Heuser said.

The “Baroque Delights” section of the program will feature three pieces. Members of the symphony orchestra will be highlighted as soloists.

“The Bach Brandenberg Concerto is for nine solo instruments, and then the oboe concerto features our principal oboist (Kristen Bull),” Heuser said.

Local symphony fans are overjoyed by the group’s return to live, in-person performances.

“It will be an incredible experience. I mean, it’s just not the same watching a concert over Zoom. You so much want to connect with the musicians and people in the audience,” said Kim Carpenter, member of the symphony board of directors, and season ticket holder and sponsor.

From Carpenter’s perspective, live music is important because of the way it can bring happiness into the lives of audiences.

“It’s going to be a real rebirth,” Carpenter said. “I think it’s going to be wonderful.”

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