MONTREAL -- For the first time in six months, the Montreal Symphony Orchestra will be onstage in front of an audience this week.

For the occassion, the orchestra will be playing Symphony No.2, also known as Song of a New Race, by American composer William Grant Still.

The piece was chosen by MSO assistant conductor Thomas Le Duc-Moreau. Only 25 when he debuted with the orchestra two years ago, the youngest assistant conductor in its history and his musicians are excited to be back in front of a crowd, said programming director Marianne Perron.

Although practice has taken place online, nothing replaces the “sharing and communion” of live performances, she said.

Perron said Le Duc-Moreau chose a piece by Still as he wanted to introduce the general public to a piece of classical music from a Black American.

Masked and physically distanced spectators will be treated to a 70-minute program, with no intermission. Perron said that choice was made to minimize crowd proximity during the pandemic.

A violin concerto by Kerson Leong will also be performed.

Perron said the orchestra is preparing for a full summer season, starting with the Classical Spree which will return to Montreal's streets and public spaces after being suspended last year.

Aside from 60 outdoor performances during the summer and several weeks in the fall when indoor performances were possible, it's been almost a year without spectators for the MSO.

Two performances will be held on April 7 and 8. Tickets are $84 and a webcast will be made available from April 20 to May 4 for $20.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 5, 2021, with files from CTV Montreal.

This article was produced with financial assistance from Facebook and The Canadian Press News Scholarship.