Playing on during the pandemic

Eye on KELOLAND

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — Activities on the Levitt stage in downtown Sioux Falls have been limited to some whimsy in the wind during this year of pandemic.

“To be out here on the lawn, is just a joy, we’ve missed it so much. Can’t wait ’til next year,” Levitt at the Falls Executive Director Nancy Halverson said.

There’s anticipation for next year, because Levitt at the Falls is planning on resuming outdoor concerts on the stage that were put on hold this year, due to the coronavirus.

“People are socially-distancing, people are wearing their masks, so we’ll do our best to do it safely, if things change and we can’t do it safely, we’ll stop, But I do think we have to try,” Halverson said.

The pandemic forced Levitt at the Falls to pivot to other musical outlets including the pop-up concerts Levitt in Your Neighborhood series. Yichun Lin of the Sioux Falls Chamber Collective was part of this summer’s lineup.

“I was so happy when I got asked to perform this summer because it’s the moment I’ve been craving for, the special connection and I just felt really fortunate,” Lin said.

Lin also performed an opening act at the Levitt shell last year. She’s excited about the prospects of a return of the concerts downtown, next year.

“Once we bring the live music back, I think it will be even more fun for people to be able to connect online and in-person, as well,” Lin said.

The Levitt’s online connection to audiences has been Levitt in Your Living Room: a series of virtual concerts that music lovers have embraced around the country, and the globe.

“We’ve had almost 75,000 views now from people in 30 states and four countries, so the response has been far greater than we expected,” Halverson said.

Levitt in Your Living Room is taking a pause for the cause but will resume in October for monthly performances through March. By then, the non-profit should have a good idea who will be performing on the Levitt bandshell in 2021.

“We had such a dynamic lineup ready for this year and most of those artists were so excited to come that said, let’s just move dates, let’s just put it on the calendar, see what we can make happen for next year,” Halverson said.

Whether it’s on stage, or online, or in neighborhoods, organizers say it’s important for the Levitt program to have a year-round presence in the community.

“Those of us who are lovers of music, love to watch the performances. But what we have to remember is that this is the life-blood of these musicians, and we feel really, really lucky that we’ve been able to employ over 50 musicians in this process which is something that really needs to continue to happen,” Halverson said.

Because the Levitt stage is on city property, the concerts would have to follow city protocols on masks and social distancing. Ideally, Levitt at the Falls would like to host 50 concerts next year, but that number is in-flux due to uncertainties over the pandemic. Halverson is confident the community will embrace the healing powers of music, whenever the performers return to the Levitt stage.

“And it’s just been really great to get out there and be with people and let music do what it does best, which is really heal our souls,” Halverson said.

Levitt at the Falls expects to announce its 2021 lineup in April. Levitt in Your Living Room resumes October 10th.

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