Lincoln is fortunate to have the Lied Center for Performing Arts at any time, but never more so than during the pandemic.
While other theaters and performing arts centers have been shuttered since March, Lied held a handful of shows in the fall and, on Feb. 20, will begin an 18-event spring season with in-person audiences for most of the shows.
It’s hard to overstate just how rare a season this will be — it could turn out to be the most extensive anywhere in the country. And it’s a high-quality lineup, not a we’ll-take-anything-out-there affair.
Credit Lied Executive Director Bill Stephan and Associate Director of Marketing and Patron Development Matthew Boring for finding artists who wanted to play and could safely make their way to and from Lincoln.
And add the Lied events staff, led by Mark Moore, for coming up with a socially distanced seating plan, alterations to the building (touchless restrooms) and in-show procedures (no intermission) to create a safe environment so that the shows received the go-ahead from the Lincoln-Lancaster County Health Department and the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.
I attended most of the fall shows and found it to be very safe, from the quick trip through the lobby to seating, which was arranged to prevent the need to climb over anyone.
Tickets for the spring season go on sale at 11 a.m. Tuesday at liedcenter.org, 402-472-4747 and at the Lied Center box office.
I’m not here to sell tickets, but with capacity limited to 550 people for each show, I’ve got a couple of recommendations.
The best known of the two is Chris Thile, who most recently was at the Lied Center with his now-canceled public radio show “Live From Here” in 2018. He’s played Lincoln multiple times with Nickel Creek, the progressive acoustic group, and the Punch Brothers, his progressive bluegrass band.
Thile will be performing solo on mandolin on March 24. And it could be spectacular.
The other best bet is Russian pianist Behzod Abduraimov, who was a last minute Lied fill-in with the Mariinsky Orchestra in 2018 and blew the audience away with his cadenza performance of Franz Liszt’s “La campanella.”
Abduraimov will be performing a program that includes Rachmaninoff’s Sonata No. 2 on Feb. 28.
A final recommendation that shouldn’t be passed up: The Philadelphia Orchestra, one of America's “big five” orchestras, will be doing a virtual concert on March 20.
It’s an opportunity to see a great orchestra for free. And, once you’ve done so, I’ll predict you’ll be at the Lied when, after the pandemic has passed, the next great orchestra comes to town.
LINCOLN'S MOST REQUESTED MUSICAL ACTS
Reach the writer at 402-473-7244 or firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter @KentWolgamott