EnsembleNEWSRQ co-artistic directors Samantha Bennett and George Nickson.

EnsembleNEWSRQ announces a “newStart” to its 2020-21 season, in light of the Covid-19 pandemic. The chamber music group, now in its fifth season, will take a cautious approach to reintroducing live musical performance, with its five upcoming programs gradually increasing in size as pandemic and vaccine news is monitored.

Concerts will be offered in a digital streaming format, and, if the situation allows, to a small in-person audience in 2021. Tickets to the streamed concerts will be “pay what you can.”

The ensemble also aims to increase the diversity of the composers represented during the season, with a concentrated focus on female, LGBTQ+ and BIPOC composers. Two commissions are underway as well, from composers Tyson J. Davis and Elizabeth A. Baker, to be premiered in future seasons.

Virtual post-concert receptions will take place after streamed programs via Zoom and Instagram, and additional recorded content and pre-concert material will supplement the concert offerings.

The season begins with “It’s About Time,” streaming online at 8 p.m. Oct. 19. Co-artistic directors Samantha Bennett, violin, and George Nickson, percussion, will perform solo and duo works by Nico Muhly, Kevin Day, Tania Leon, Katherine Balch and Sarasota’s own Francis Schwartz.

Next up is “Solitude and Suffrage,” at 8 p.m. Jan. 18, 2021, at a venue to be determined. This program for clarinet, strings and piano celebrates the event of women’s suffrage in the United States, with works by Quinn Mason and Mark-Anthony Turnage on the bill.

Rescheduled from last season, “Enter the Vortex” brings together works by Phillippe Hurel and Gerard Grisey, Feb. 15 at a venue TBD. Also rescheduled from last season is “Digital,” celebrating the diversity of style and quality of current American acoustic music, and including a co-commission and Florida premiere by David Maric and a commission and world premiere by Max Grafe. At 8 p.m. March 15, venue TBD.

The season will conclude with “Body Vessel,” at 3 p.m. April 12 at Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe. This program is in partnership with the Hermitage Artist Retreat, bringing to life Helga Davis’ Greenfield Prize-winning commission.

For more details on the season, visit ensrq.org.

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