BEMIDJI -- For the first time since March, applause rang out in the Thompson Recital Hall this past weekend.

The "open for performance’" light affixed outside the Bangsberg Fine Arts Complex was dusted off and shining bright once again.

This light shore brightly for the first time in months ahead of Bemidji State University professor Stephen Carlson's performance in the Thompson Recital Hall on Oct. 9. (Hannah Olson / Bemidji Pioneer)
This light shore brightly for the first time in months ahead of Bemidji State University professor Stephen Carlson's performance in the Thompson Recital Hall on Oct. 9. (Hannah Olson / Bemidji Pioneer)

Mask-clad audience members found their way to their chairs, which were spaced five seats apart and marked off with green tape. A total of 50 ticket holders were allowed to attend the performance in the hall that usually holds 250.

Audience members find their socially distanced seats ahead of Bemidji State University professor Stephen Carlson's recital in the Thompson Recital Hall on Oct. 9. (Hannah Olson / Bemidji Pioneer)
Audience members find their socially distanced seats ahead of Bemidji State University professor Stephen Carlson's recital in the Thompson Recital Hall on Oct. 9. (Hannah Olson / Bemidji Pioneer)

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Stephen Carlson, pianist and chair of the Bemidji State University music department, took the stage and treated a sparse but enthusiastic audience to more than an hour of music.

He began with works by Ludwig van Beethoven, Franz Joseph Haydn, Béla Bartók, and wrapped up with pieces from Claude Debussy and Franz Liszt.

Bemidji State University professor Stephen Carlson performs in the Thompson Recital Hall on Oct. 9. (Hannah Olson / Bemidji Pioneer)
Bemidji State University professor Stephen Carlson performs in the Thompson Recital Hall on Oct. 9. (Hannah Olson / Bemidji Pioneer)

Like all things in 2020, this event looked a bit different. Carlson did not verbally address the changes himself, but the show’s program thanked audience members for their cooperation in following COVID-19 precautions.

“Dear audience members, welcome to our first performance at Bemidji State since last March! Thank you for joining us and adhering to the Minnesota State Law regarding the wearing of masks in a public venue,” the program read. “Your safety is our top priority.”

The show ended with a standing ovation and an encore, which was a long time coming.