An orchestra manager writes: There will be absences we cannot fill

An orchestra manager writes: There will be absences we cannot fill


norman lebrecht

March 14, 2020

From a sombre, moving op-ed today by the Toronto Symphony CEO Matthew Loden:

Art offers a conduit for a shared experience that works beyond what conversation and words alone can provide, and it makes it easier to sit next to the different.

With concert halls, theatres and sports arenas shuttered by the COVID-19 spread, we now cannot even sit by each other without fear. No one wants it to be this way, but we are nevertheless sliding into a new reality. For a while, we will all be more alone, more isolated, more hungry for connection. Some of us will want validation of our fears, others will pine for a nostalgic ease that we used to find as patrons and fans of the arts.

Eventually we’ll move past this current challenge, and as we adapt to whatever the new world has in store for us, we’ll take stock of what happened during COVID-19. How did we respond? Many will have suffered financial hardships; others will have been sick and recovered. Some will have succumbed to the virus and left behind grieving loved ones. There will be absences we cannot fill….

Read on here.



  • Lucien Knoedler says:

    Put this down about an hour ago elsewhere on FB: (…) potential concert guests may not be able to overcome the fear of any gathering in the near future easily. Consequently, this might seriously thinning out audiences and if so actually undermining the financials of concert life quite drastically as well. In other words, we’ve suddenly entered quite a different world, one of a basically impaired social fabric

  • Willymh says:

    I have just had to assist in writing a letter to our subscribers and supporters for our Symphony Orchestra here on Prince Edward Island (pop. 148,00 but yes we have a semi-professional orchestra) explaining why we will be making a change to our spring programme. Our Music Director makes several of the points Mr Loden so, as you say, movingly makes. It is not just the big orchestras that are faced with this but the small groups of musicians in communities everywhere that are grappling with this. Let us hope we survive it.

  • Karl says:

    People in my state are buying all the toilet paper as soon as it hits the shelves. We should try to stop this from turning into a panic.

  • Ron Swanson says:

    It’s not impossible

    If it gets as bad as Italy just open a window and play or sing

  • Anon says:

    Good read, but just so you know Norman, an Orchestra manager is a different position entirely to a CEO.