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Toe River Chamber Ensemble

Toe River Chamber Ensemble is a community orchestra sponsored by the Toe River Arts Council. It is based in Yancey and Mitchell Counties of North Carolina.

In March the Toe River Chamber Ensemble (TRCE) halted all rehearsals and canceled their two concerts planned for spring. As the Ensemble waited to see how to proceed, these musicians brainstormed how to play together during a pandemic. In mid-May the brass players, including conductor Lisa Mauney, began to meet at a distance at First Baptist Church in Burnsville to play brass trio music. They all knew each other enough to trust that physical distance, mask wearing when not playing, and all other safety precautions would be respected. “It has been a music life-saver for these four Ensemble members! The research on the safety of brass playing outside and properly spaced is good. We love playing together and have been successful in keeping it private and not drawing any crowds,” said Mauney.

In May about six string members began practicing at the Appalachian Therapeutic Riding Center (ATRC) outside, spaced safely apart and wearing masks. The ATRC generously allowed the string musicians to rehearse free of charge because ATRC is currently closed due to the pandemic. Playing music together has been a restorative practice during these difficult times for these members of the Ensemble who greatly missed playing together.

Lisa Mauney arranged for “The Brass,” four TRCE brass players, to perform for ATRC volunteers. On July 16, ATRC invited ten volunteers (five couples) to view an outdoor, socially distant performance.

The group hopes to plan a similar string performance in late August or early September. “The Toe River Chamber Ensemble is a very missed experience in our community, and we are grateful to have these small opportunities for the artists to play and perform in a safe way,” said Mauney.

NC Arts Council

The Toe River Chamber Ensemble is made possible in part by a Grassroots Arts Grant from the North Carolina Arts Council, a division of the Cultural and Natural Resources Department, a state agency and by those individuals and organizations who believe in the benefits of music. Want to help the Arts Council keep the music flowing, sponsor more concerts? Donate to the Chamber Ensemble today.