Brian Woodham

The Jay and Susie Gogue Performing Arts Center's inaugural season was rolling along nicely last year before everything came to a crashing halt due to the pandemic. 

The Gogue Center postponed long-awaited performances and canceled others while holding out hope that something could be salvaged for its second season, which ultimately had to be scrapped, for all intents and purposes. 

But with the struggles and disappointments of the pandemic came innovations, some of which will be incorporated into the model of performances in the future. 

The acceleration of the use of live-streaming is certainly one of those innovations that will likely become industry standard for years to come. 

And a hybrid approach, where artists perform in front of both live and streaming audiences, possesses many advantages.

That was clear last week when Wynton Marsalis and the Jazz at the Lincoln Center Orchestra Septet helped mark the return of musicians to the stage at the Gogue Center. 

Not only were live-music starved fans treated to two shows by the jazz impresario, but students in the area and throughout the state gleaned valuable lessons, both musical and life, in workshops and a live-streamed educational performance. 

More than a 1,000 students tuned in for Jazz for Young People, a kind of Jazz 101 by Marsalis and the septet that was live-streamed to classrooms throughout the state. Marsalis and crew also took part in workshops with the Auburn University Percussion Ensemble, Columbus State University Jazz Orchestra, Auburn High School Jazz Band and Ogletree Elementary. 

And journalist Mark Hinson directed "A Conversation with Wynton Marsalis," where the music legend provided fascinating insights not only on the history and democratic spirit of jazz but on our present moment as well. 

The return of artists to the Gogue Center is not only a wonderful option for us to break out of our pandemic-induced doldrums, it's an essential educational resource for our children and the community at large.

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