MORRISON, Colo. (CBS4) – Red Rocks Amphitheater will hold its first shows since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. The five-night concert series, called “Acoustic on the Rocks,” is being performed by the Colorado Symphony.

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The sold-out, acoustic-only performances will be from July 29 to Aug. 2. Organizers say they will look much different than what concert goers are used to, due to a cap in ticket sales and COVID-19 safety precautions.

“We really want to show people that this can be done safely and everyone can be comfortable,” said Anthony Pierce, Chief Artistic Officer with the symphony. “We feel it’s a milestone. The orchestra hasn’t been together in any capacity since early March.”

Since then, times have changed. While Red Rocks has a capacity of more than 9,000 people, only 175 guests will be allowed at each of the five performances by the Colorado Symphony.

Currently, 175 people per designated activity is the outdoor variance limit in the state’s guidance for outdoor events.

Masks and social distancing will also be required for guests and musicians while inside the venue, organizers say. Households will be allowed to sit together, but must adhere to Red Rocks Amphitheater event attendance guidelines.

(credit: CBS)

“Tonight we’ve only got 175 people and we are really exploiting what is the natural acoustic in the space,” Pierce said. “There is no giant sound system. It’s simply 19 string players playing in a purely acoustical situation.”

Those 19 musicians are about a fourth of the full symphony, which is yet another example of how things will be different. Still, Pierce says the shows are will be an important step in getting musicians, ushers, and vendors back to work in unprecedented times.

A representative with Denver Arts and Venues tells CBS4 Red Rocks anticipates losing $50 million this summer due to cancelled shows and events.

“We kind of see us as kind of a baby step in a restart of the economy, if you will. We’re trying to get people back to work,” he said. “We’ve got to do this safely. We have to because we want to do it again.”

Conor McCue