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The Tallahassee Bach Parley Goes Virtual And Flies Solo

Valerie Arsenault rehearses in the sanctuary of St. John's Episcopal Church.
Tallahassee Bach Parley
Valerie Arsenault rehearses in the sanctuary of St. John's Episcopal Church.

Musical performances are among the many activities greatly changed by the COVID-19 pandemic. One well-known Tallahassee musician will be taking her performance online this Sunday, June 7, but still trying to engage the audience as though they were actually in the performance space with her.
That musician is Valerie Arsenault, a founder and music director of the Tallahassee Bach Parley.

"We waited as long as we could to decide, when it became clear at the beginning of May that we weren't going to be able to do a regular Bach Parley concert on June 7th, this is the first thing that popped into my head. I thought, 'This is the way to go for this date.'"

The concept, explained Arsenault, was first to do the concert online.

"I'd been practicing on Zoom with my students and we're all muted so we can just see each other and keep each other company and check in every half hour. But we practice alone together. That has been a wonderful thing for this Bach Parley Student Academy and it's also helped me prepare for this 'One Makes Music.'"

Which, as the title implies, means that Arsenault will be flying solo in this performance without her usual Bach Parley band mates. Even so, she's confident in her multi-task abilities.

"The composers make it so I play both the melody and the harmony and some of the middle backup stuff! And it depends on which composer I'm playing. They each approach this differently. So the pieces are complete and there's something poignant about being alone."

But even though there will be no audience in the sanctuary of St. John's Episcopal Church where the performance will take place, Arsenault won't really be alone. She'll have - hopefully - a very large virtual audience watching on Facebook live.

"These pieces are very dear to my heart and I'm sort of stepping out in vulnerability to share them with the audience. I've never made a concert video myself before and the pieces are unedited. But I'll also do the usual Bach Parley talking between the pieces, and so I'll tell a little more about each one; how it works and what it means to me."

She'll also have some introductory remarks before the music starts.

"The half-hour from 2:30 to 3:00 will be a chat on Facebook and it's not scripted. I'll talk about the concert, but people can go on the Facebook Live chat and ask me questions."

That's yet another Bach Parley concert tradition, vitual though it may be. Valerie Arsenault as the Tallahassee Bach Parley will be performing on the ensemble's Facebook page going live this Sunday at 2:30 p.m.

Follow @flanigan_tom

Tom Flanigan has been with WFSU News since 2006, focusing on covering local personalities, issues, and organizations. He began his broadcast career more than 30 years before that and covered news for several radio stations in Florida, Texas, and his home state of Maryland.

Find complete bio, contact info, and more stories. here.