REGINA -- The Regina Symphony Orchestra is back on stage after an abrupt end to their season in March forced a seven month hiatus.

Oct. 15-17 saw a return to live performances with the Masterworks series, starting with ‘Classical Inspiration’ at the Holy Rosary Cathedral. The momentum continues this weekend with ‘Prairie Pop Redux,’ featuring Jeffery Straker on vocals and piano.

“It’s kind of a musical storytelling night, with an orchestra providing the backdrop,” Straker explained excitedly, during a break from rehearsal Tuesday night.

“Seeing that we are able to proceed with this, seeing the audience interest, it feels so great. You know, we sat idle for quite some time and my concern was, ‘are people going to forget about the arts?’ Thankfully, they have not!”

The pandemic has been hard on everyone but certain activities have been more difficult to adapt to new safety restrictions.

Gordon Gerrard, the Regina Symphony Orchestra’s Musical Director, has been working to make sure this season’s performances adhere to COVID-19 guidelines laid out by the Saskatchewan Health Authority. That means he, and all musicians not playing wind instruments, will wear masks.

“The bigger change for us is that, because of the social distancing rules, the musicians have to sit quite far apart, which is not normal, so that takes some getting used to too,” Gerrard said.

The audience is limited to a maximum of 150 people, who will each wear a mask and sit at least six feet apart.

Holy Rosary Cathedral

Available seats are marked at the Holy Rosary Cathedral to abide by physical distancing guidelines in the Saskatchewan Public Health Order. (Cole Davenport/CTV News)

“Not only does that provide safety from COVID, we also found it provides incredible good sight lines in this church so the six-feet provides that advantage too,” Straker said.

Even though it’s not the season they envisioned, Straker and Gerrard are still grateful for the chance to play again.

“A lot of other orchestras in the country aren’t able to play, or they aren’t able to play for live audiences,” Gerrard said. “So getting to this point, for a very long time, was very uncertain. To actually be able to open our doors and welcome people in, has been a huge relief for all of us.”

There are still a few tickets available for the performances running Thursday, Friday and Saturday.