Music director Osmo Vänskä (center) conducted the Minnesota Orchestra's virtual performance.

Virtual graduation ceremonies are getting an upgrade thanks to a new recording from the Minnesota Orchestra.

Musicians recorded a fresh version of "Pomp and Circumstance," the graduation ceremony standard, from their homes. The orchestra made video and audio versions available free for schools in early May. Since then, some 800 schools have downloaded it.

"We recognize that the graduating class of 2020 is missing the traditional in-person ceremony this year," said music director Osmo Vänskä in a statement, "and we are humbled to be able to share this music for all who would like to include it in their virtual celebrations."

Schools from across Minnesota -- plus Wisconsin, Ohio and even Canada -- downloaded the classic march.

"We had intended it for Minnesota graduations," spokeswoman Gwen Pappas said, "but we’ve had enough downloads from across the country that we are now creating a 'national' version," with a tweaked message at its end.

The Minnesota Orchestra isn't the only group trying to make this strange year feel special for young people graduating from schools unable to hold in-person ceremonies. Fergus Falls High School's band director Scott Kummrow performed the piece's 22 parts on 13 instruments, posting the results on YouTube.

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