Lights go out on Philadelphia Orch and Joshua Bell

Lights go out on Philadelphia Orch and Joshua Bell


norman lebrecht

August 21, 2016

Violinist Barbara Govatos messages from Saratoga Springs:

‘So proud of my colleagues in the Philadelphia Orchestra especially tonight at SPAC when the lights went out on us toward the end of Vivaldi’s Spring Concerto from the Four Seasons with Josh Bell.

No one stopped playing and it was stupendous. The audience loved it. Another great moment in Philadelphia Orchestra history! Seemed appropriate for SPAC’s 50th anniversary….’

philadelphia saratoga



  • Robert Eshbach says:

    I saw that happen at SPAC back in the late 60s with Rudolph Serkin playing the Mendelssohn G Minor. They kept on playing as if nothing had happened.

    • Milka says:

      Nothing unusual here … most musicians are in the dark in relation to what
      they are playing .Now if this was in a subway … a different story and sound track .

    • Joel Lazar says:

      Happened to me, Alon Goldstein and the Symphony of the Potomac in spring 2008, during the finale of the Schumann Piano Concerto; flickers and then lights out with the emergency lighting fading, no idea how long it really took before restoration. Since Alon kept going, so did I and the orchestra. it’s been a lot easier in subsequent performances!

  • Herbert Pauls says:

    It also happened to Horowitz when he was playing the Polonaise-Fantaisie in a 1965 Carnegie Hall rehearsal. He kept going, apparently without a hitch, and somebody eventually found a flashlight.

  • Operacentric says:

    There was a similar incident at a Prom concert a few years back. BRSO under Jansons were approaching the climax of the ‘battle’ sequence of Strauss’ Ein Heldenleben, the section where the music seems close to falling apart, when the Royal Albert Hall lighting computer went beserk. The lights went out and we seemed to be plunged into the lighting programme for the Serice of Remembrance – spots lighting up the various hall entrances, going out, swinging around… the orchestra played on brilliantly; the audience held its collective breath wondering how long they could play without seeing the music… lighting returned just as the sequence reached its resolution.

    Amazingly, this wasn’t captured by the TV transmission – when I watched it later you could barely detect any lighting difference – amazing quick-thinking technicians no doubt.

    Huge roars afterwards…

  • Cyril Blair says:

    Happened a couple times at the 2010 Chopin Competition in Warsaw. There was low level emergency lighting and everyone kept playing.

  • Cefranck says:

    Oh c’mon folks. Vivaldi “The Seasons”? Everybody in the Philly Orchestra, either moonlighting or in the orchestra itself has probably played that piece to death since school. It’s a classic example of knowing something so well as to be able to play something “blindfolded” (this time almost literally), including — especially — Joshua Bell, the soloist. This should not be a surprise: interesting, but no surprise. Now if it was the Malcolm Williamson “Violin Concerto” ….