Must watch: Toronto vs Rotterdam in the home-play finals

Must watch: Toronto vs Rotterdam in the home-play finals


norman lebrecht

March 22, 2020

Catching site of the Rotterdam Philharmonic’s viral home performance of Beethoven 9th – 80,000 views on Slipped Disc and rising – home-bound members of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra put their techs together to play, remotely, Aaron Copland’s Appalachian Spring.

The driving force in the project was principal double bass Jeff Beecher. The music was recorded in various homes with a click-track provided by Jeff, who then edited the outcome.

You are among the first to see it online.


Who’s best?

Vote here for Trotters or Rotters.



  • Ricardo says:

    This was very moving. Thank you!

  • WillymH says:

    Why are you making this a contest? Both orchestras are giving their best and from their hearts – why is it a competition?

    • WillymH says:

      Ah wait a minute I see why! LOL I almost fell for it.

    • Janet Whalen says:

      I agree!!!! All of the artists are incredibly talented. I am grateful to all of them for sharing such beautiful music during this stressful time.

    • Anon says:

      Because whatever orchestra you are in, it’s always a competition to see who plays better, has more talented conductors (doubtful), more sessions in the book, more money….an endless list. Presume you’re not in the profession?

      • WillymH says:

        Somehow i doubt that any of these musicians thought of it as a competition. And actually they didn’t set up the competition someone who is not in the profession did. And no I’m not I’m what is called the audience that you, assuming you are in that profession, play for.

    • Dot Shields says:

      My question exactly!

    • Margaret says:

      I agree. Very different pieces. One much more familiar at least to my ears than the other.

    • Hamilton Brown says:

      Agree. Two different pieces played extraordinarily well.

  • nadine says:

    Both are fab. No need to turn it into a competition!

  • Beth Crane says:

    Wonderful! Thank you.

  • Dennis Krakow says:

    Brilliant, moving and out of the box! Just proves that concert halls can be in your mind as well as a physical place.

  • DAVID says:

    I echo the comments above. They’re both great, is my answer. Perhaps the event we are all going through right now may have the saving grace of helping all of us understand that our obsession with competition and our sheer disdain of human vulnerability have actually been destructive to the world, to others, and ultimately to ourselves. At a time when humanity is going through one of the biggest challenges it has encountered in a very long time, I cannot fathom why we would even think of engaging in such trivial endeavors as determining who’s best and who’s not. Everything is interconnected and deserving of consideration and respect.

  • Peter San Diego says:

    This is … well, words are failing me at the moment. I got chills listening to and watching this (no, I don’t have a fever), and I’m resisting the impulse to wipe my eyes (until I’ve washed my hands).

    Thank you, musicians and technical staff!

    Speaking of technology: how do you deal with the signal delays on the internet that even news interviews cannot conceal? Is everything synchronized in post-production multitracking, or is there some delay-free mode of live synchronization?

    • Predrag says:

      Each musician recorded their own solo video while listening to an old recording on headphones (same recorded version for all). Video editor imported all clips and synchronised them manually.

      Internet latency doesn’t allow real-time music for large groups. There is, in fact, software that allows a smaller group to play together online. It’s called JamKazam. You need fast internet with a wired (Ethernet) cable connection (Wifi isn’t good enough). In ideal conditions, up to 10 people can play together.

  • Victoriakv says:

    Fabulous! Thank you musicians of both orchestras!

  • Chris says:

    Two different styles of music, both are great more kudos to the musicians for taking the time to do this. I live in Toronto and know some of the musician I am a bit bias. I vote for both!

  • Mrs Morag Clark says:

    I can’t see how to vote, or do we do it through a comment ? I vote Toronto just because I like the Copland more than Beethovens 9th !!!!!

    • David says:

      They are both great. The made Ludwig’s Ode to Joy the anthem of the European Union and put Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony on Explorer One so if anyone out in space gets it, they will have an example of Earth’s best music.
      Copeland is the greatest American composer, but Ludwig is the world’s.
      Stay healthy.

  • Julie says:

    Cheers to BOTH!!! I teared up but I swear I didn’t touch my eyes! Thank you for doing this. Music is so healing and connects us from any distance.

  • Leah Margulies says:

    Please don’t make this a competition! They are both wonderful and inspiring.

  • Grace says:

    Not voting. Both beautifully uplifting! Thank you to all the musicians. I’m looking forward to other orchestras. And I would like to see the voting taken out of this altogether.

  • Thank you all for this moment with you!!

  • RUSSELL says:

    who cares. Music to my ears. Seeing people come together in these trying times creates a sense of community in all of us. Thank you to all who create ways to bind us together as one family. THere is no competition against one another. It is competition to rise above , we stand together in the face of any adversity.

  • Lois klein says:

    Thanks for raising our spirits! I’m not going to vote because there’s enough competition in the world as it is! You are both fantastic!

  • Larry W says:

    ‘Tis the gift to make music.

    Your magic brings together
    what custom has sternly divided.
    All men shall become brothers,
    wherever your gentle wings hover.

  • Maureen McEvoy says:

    I vote for both! different music requiring different technical components and how amazing that they both created a seamless piece of music….. but mostly I know that music is so very supportive during these times …play on !

  • Cindy says:

    Thank you for a ray of sunshine in some very dark times.

  • Pdk says:

    They both were fantastic! Thank you so much!

  • Nancy says:


    Peace and love

  • Millicent Essandoh-Bergwerk says:

    Les deux sont très bien, mais Beethoven est mon petit chouchou cette année. Beethoven!

  • Janet says:

    OMG, Both so beautiful. Brought tears not only because of the lovely music but also the musicians desire to bring us some joy during this dark time. Thank you!!

  • Roberta says:

    This was truly a gift and I thank you all

  • SusyQ says:


  • Dick West says:

    A dead heat, to stand off real death.

  • Nancy in Glen Echo Heights says:

    Ritter’s get 1st for absolute creativity of the idea and Trotters tie for 1st for creative visual effects to match.

  • Charles Cerjan says:

    Wonderful! fantastic! It’s a tie.

  • Wendy says:

    The Toronto piece showcased each instrument more. Both were fantastic to listen to!

  • EPBiggs says:

    Won’t vote for one over the other. Both are very well done. This is a time to pull together in gratitude for outreach efforts made by musicians waiting to be laid off. And these group / individual videos are VERY hard to do. Bravo to all!

  • Tom Bjorklund says:

    You know, we always look at competition. And no, there’s none here. Both are great, and I’ve watched each too many times today. But you know what? Maybe it will encourage other groups of incredible musicians from other orchestras to put something together. It’s tragic what’s going on, but we can all use some uplifting. And what better than folks like these (from both orchestras) doing something for us. Not for money, not for their groups, but for us (and I’m sure they enjoy it too). Thank you, thank you, thank you.

  • V.Lind says:

    Catching “site”?

    Almost out e off reading on, but I’m glad I did. Inspirational effort.

  • V.Lind says:

    New keyboard. “Put me.”

  • Lisa Nelbach says:

    The hair rose on the back of my neck. Both pieces were transporting. Wonderful to have such contrasts and creativity in use of video. The body language of the musicians adds terrifically to the ensemble, even when they can’t see or cue off each other.
    I hope other groups will find it worth while to share their current repertoire and let us see what we are missing, and share our common loss and make a gain from it.
    Please all stay safe and well.

  • GAYLE says:

    I’m loving this! Do some more!

  • David says:

    Wouldn’t it be fantastic if lots of the world’s symphonies joined in to entertain us during this time of stress.
    Stay healthy, everyone

  • Des Prosser says:

    Can we have more what a fantastic combination of modern technology with musical talent no contest both were great

  • LVV says:

    Thank you for genuinely making me feel better than I have in weeks x

  • Sapfu says:


    It is so nice to hear something pleasing to the ear in this time of negatives and desperation.

  • Absolutely amazing! Bravo! The musicians showed not only their musical talents but their ability to adapt and deliver inspiration through music at the times when it is needed the most.

  • Malik says:

    It is just fabulous!
    I enjoyed the melodious sound of music till the end.

  • Murray Frank says:

    absolutely marvelous
    Thank you
    Murray – Boston

  • Jackie Geoghegan says:

    As a graduate of CUNY-Queens College, I’m partial to Copland – but both are so fabulous and joyful. Thanks!

  • RVS Lee says:

    Hey there Norman –
    Slightly surprised no one has forwarded this to you yet….

    Hoping safety and health to you all…

  • Liz in Edmonton Alberta says:

    Fantastic! My phone never sounded so beautiful;). Don’t stop! More please!!!

  • Ruthanne Krauss says:

    Thank you to both of these most wonderful orchestras. No contest! This gives new meaning to “We are the World.” Keep playing and giving us beautiful music.

  • elaine hertz says:

    What a delight and thank you all for your generosity, ingenuity and lovely performance. We need more like you!!

  • Pam says:

    loved and appreciated both. keep them coming.

  • Sandra Greer says:

    This one (Toronto) had much better editing and mixing than the Rotterdam. The choice of the piece helped. The Ode to Joy is too heavy with string players and that is all I could hear. Showing each player as she entered, and the separation of the parts, was more satisfying.

    I must say that this medium is not conducive to enormous ensembles. As can be heard in the last couple of seconds of the Toronto.

    Congratulations and thanks to all who participated!

  • William Boehner says:

    Very appreciative and moved by both Orchestras. The Copeland piece is a favorite of mine.

  • Jan says:

    They are both amazing, filled with talented musicians who bring joy to the world by sharing their gifts. I can’t vote on “who’s the best”. They are all fabulous. Please keep doing this. It brings light into the dark, happiness to the soul. It’s beautiful.

  • Tom says:

    You both win!!!

  • Karen says:

    I love them both. A marvelous interlude to social isolation

  • GG says:

    Equal! The human spirit wins!

  • Annette says:

    Trotters, who were as equally sublime as the Rotters, whom were as equally sublime as the Trotters. Thank you loved it ! We all need your Artistry especially now

  • Cindy Rizzo says:

    Soooo close. But I have to go with the Trotters.

  • Christine Kurien says:

    Absolutely amazing and touching-so much joy!

  • AMY A GILBERT says:

    Thank you, TSO. Listening from Vancouver. Both musically and technically wonderful. Stay well, all of you.

  • Marianne Johnson says:

    Get music what amazing talent both sets

  • Marianne Johnson says:

    Most amazing music by all don’t make it a competition you are both brilliant and so beautiful thank you for sharing

  • Nancy Foreman says:

    So moving! Simply Fabulous! Brought me to tears!

  • Alfred says:

    Thank you, thank you, thank you. Music will save humanity.

  • Barb says:

    Heartfelt thanks to both of these wonderful orchestras!! What a terrific idea!

  • Larry says:

    And the winner is all of us that get to experience this wonderful music. Thanks to all involved.

  • Miriam says:

    This very morning a physician told me that, after playing keyboard professionally for my entire Adult life (I am 81), I no longer have sufficient nerve stimulus to play well. I have already made my choice to “wallow” in the glory of listening to others make the music I have loved my whole life.

    Discovering this was a wonderful beginning.

  • Sabra says:

    Awesome! Just that this music exists is beautiful but what these 2 organizations have done with the pieces is incredibly inspiring!

  • Julie says:

    Thank you, thank you, thank you! for filling my lonely day with music and community!

  • Chris Brown says:

    The winners are all of us, who got to see and hear your beautiful music. Thank you for bringing this wonderful spirit into these trying days. Play on…..

  • Hetty Taylor says:

    LOVED both! Though my family is Dutch so…..

  • Susan says:

    I can’t vote for one over the other. Both are awesome and, frankly, we need more, more, more.

  • Kelly says:

    Trotters all the way!

  • John says:

    Wonderful! Thank you all!

  • Janet says:

    Gorgeous music!

  • Sue Meltzer says:

    LOVE THIS! Just beautiful. Appalachian Spring was just wonderful.

  • Cate K. says:

    Thank you to Toronto and Rotterdam Symphony Orchestras. What a wonderful performance by each. What a wonderful gift to share with the world! Thank you.

  • Stillrunningmom says:

    Uplifting — both orchestras — a gift in a stressful time — thank you!

  • Wendell Smith says:

    The Beethoven moved me to tears and then the Copland kept them flowing until I felt cleaned.

  • Pamela Farr says:

    I am a serious fangirl of Aaron Copeland, but I have to cast my vote for the Rotters.

  • Pervin Diwanji says:

    I love Beethoven and all his music but then I am a subscriber for Toronto Symphony Orchestra. So both did a great job of bringing music from their homes to the world! Love you guys. Keep it up.

  • Charley Bowman says:

    Thank you, Toronto Symphony! Beautiful…

  • Deborah says:

    Loved both of course. BUT, I for one, think Jonathan Crowe from the TSO is fantastic. They’ll get my vote every time. Thanks for doing this.

  • Mo says:

    Brought tears to my eyes. Artists lead the way.

  • Laurie says:

    Toronto, you made me cry. I wish you all the best – you gave us the best gift.

  • Essjay says:

    Thank you from the bottom of my heart for creating and sharing such a joyful moment. A gift of love and compassion for every human being who is fortunate enough to experience the performance.

  • Kristin Ramsden says:

    Both are the BEST!!!
    Musicians all over the world are leading the way to working/playing/harmonizing together!!! This us vs them is old hat! We all need to be creating a better, brand NEW WORLD, like these people!!!

  • Leonie says:

    Thank you thank you you are all amazing – so a play off is necessary!

  • Garth Wilbanks says:

    Love them both. Thank you for sharing your beautiful music!

  • Ann Steinmetz says:

    Lovely! Thank you for this. Things like this really bring the world together.

  • Diana Kullman says:

    Absolutely beautiful in this troubling times

  • Omar Kader says:

    Stunningly beautiful!

  • SFSuzi says:

    Rotterdam, perhaps because I prefer that piece. It’s more victorious in time of peril

  • Louella Santobello says:

    No best. Both are beautiful. Here’s to the power of music, and those who play it, to touch us all!

  • Elizabeth R says:

    Musicians keeping the world beautiful. Thank you!

  • Stephen Menard says:

    It is a draw. How do I judge the beauty of two fantastic pieces performed by two excellent groups of musicians both of whom bring joy to our hearts in these uncertain times?

    • Margaret says:

      Stephen. I’m here in Jerusalem. Quarantined in my apartment with my husband
      Please put me on your mailing list and keep sending. Thanks a million

  • Margaret says:

    Ode to joy is just what we need right now Thank you Rotterdam.

  • Liz Wheeler says:

    Standing ovation. Encores please!

  • I’ve been listening to the Appalachian Spring on my dog walks everyday for months. It gets me every time.

  • Patricia Pickup says:

    Both Magnificent so even score. What joy! Thank you to all the musicians. Your love of music and dedication to your instrument shines through to all. We want more.

  • Michael says:

    Marvelous, wonderful, an outstanding absolute delight.

  • Clevenger Dale says:

    Thank you, all my colleagues for your gift to the world in these difficult times,
    Dale Clevenger

  • Sidney says:

    Not only do we get this magnificent music but also the gift of seeing the individual work of these outstanding musicians!

  • Douglas McKechnie says:

    Brilliant and uplifting thank you so much

  • Jay says:

    No contest … no voting … it was the highlight of 2 wks of nothingness!!
    What a gift you have shared with the world!!
    The swelling at the end of both pieces brought me to tears!
    You have BLESSED the world with your gifts of music!! THANK YOU TO EACH OF YOU!!

  • Dawn McCormick says:


  • George says:

    From the State of Connecticut in the US – thank you. Absolutely beautiful!

  • Eileen Smith says:

    Glorious. A perfect antidote to the coronavirus. Thank you.

  • Sandi & Marvin Bernstein says:

    Both symphonies were amazing,especially now in self-isolation and physical distancing.

  • Carol Vassar says:

    Thank you very much. Beautiful!
    Now I have to wipe the tears away.

  • miriam meyer says:

    they’re equally wonderful and have brought joyfulness to millions by now!

  • Sarah D says:

    I vote for both. Thank you, musicians!

  • Linda F says:

    Wonderful to Hear and see in such trying times. Thank you

  • Judy Tepley says:

    your efforts are beyond description, blessings and thank you.

  • Dorothy Zimmerman says:

    Thank you wonderful musicians, both pieces of music are the best and so are both of the orchestras.

  • Dianne says:

    All I can say is thank you to both orchestras…it was beautiful…

  • Laura Caron says:

    We know these musicians are masters and very grateful but SO impressed with those whose faces we don’t see who put it all together. Please know your sleepless nights are appreciated and that you are true artists as well!

  • Jennifer says:

    Amazing, thank you for sharing wonderful music!

  • Charlotte Davis says:

    Thank you to both orchestras. So beautiful! Missing you, TSO.

  • Lorette says:

    SPECTACULAR is all I can say…Thank you Toronto and Rotterdam from Melbourne Australia

  • William Tell says:

    Rotterdam was an inspiring Song of Joy.

    However, Toronto can arouse you out of your sleep.

    I’d like to hear them play the Overture to me.
    The 1st 4 minutes of the 12 can put you to sleep but the last 3 minutes can wake the dead.

    The Lone Ranger theme always arouses me in my grave. This Toronto recital, although excellent, left me spinning in my grave

  • Bruce N. says:

    The question “Which is better” was wrong! Both are gifts!!
    One should never compare gifts of love, just be truly grateful.

  • Thomas LaForge says:

    So great. Too close to call. We need more performances to decide.

  • Cherri says:

    I agree, Both are gifts! Let people come together and appreciate the efforts of all. We are so lucky they made this effort for us all.

  • Ginny says:

    It’s definitely a tie! But it was great to hear the intro from Rotterdam performers.

    Thank you all for this.

  • Jacqueline says:

    For music lovers everywhere.

  • Susan Haig says:

    Thank you for sharing musical gifts, spirit, creativity, Love to all, and heartfelt hi to the TSO!

  • Erika Rein says:

    Thank you
    from the bottom of our hearts!

  • Mary-Ann says:

    Thank you, thank you, wish you would keep playing just about forever. Bravo, cannot choose between such two beautiful different pieces. Superb. . .

  • Susan D'Ambrosio says:

    Loved both. Thanks for doing the concert

  • Barb Nelson says:

    Trotters because thee Appalachian Spring is my go to inspiring music!

  • Flynnster says:

    Both absolutely wonderful!! Kudos all around!

    Could we get Rhapsody in Blue, by any chance? 😎

  • Helen Aponte says:

    Hmmmm my vote goes to all of them… to both orchestras’ members. They are giving and sharing their beautiful and awesome talent of Music! If that would be a competition, it would not be fare. Because the Toronto Orchestra has more members.

    I enjoyed both pieces and it was a delighted watching all the musicians’ passion!

    The CoVid-19 has attacked and destroyed many lives. However, it is awesome to see that there are beautiful people that use this time to make a positive impact to many people in the world.

    I applaud all of you…
    God bless all of you! Thank you so very much for taking time and play beautifully!

  • Tish Knapp says:

    Thank you, both groups for this wonderful uplifter.

  • Elizabeth Galloway says:


  • Teresa says:

    Thank you to the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra for doing this. It was incredibly moving and uplifting! I watched this video with my 6 year old son on my lap who wants to be Beethoven. It lifted his/our spirits during this difficult moment as his father is currently battling the COVID-19 virus. While we feel so isolated and scared, this video made us feel connected and supported.

    We are from Toronto, thank you TSO as well! We are your number 1 fans!

  • bronwyn says:

    Amazing – thank you! xoxoxo

  • Martin Ward says:

    Great stuff! Thanks, Toronto – nice choice, beautifully played. I also like Playing for Change Around the World, Know it?

  • Polo says:

    goosebumps! tears of joy! thank you so much!

  • Lily says:

    Like the ice bucket challenge!

    Thank you all for lifting our spirit with your beautiful music and savy tech skills. Bravo to both groups! Both made my eyes water.

    Hope more groups will follow!

  • Pamela Loomis says:

    I love these performances so much!! Such a balm for our hearts…❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️

  • Ellen says:

    tTtally brilliant. Thank you, thank you.

  • Mary anne says:

    My favorite. It makes me feel good in NYC AreaWE NEED IT

  • Susan Berglund says:

    Toronto’s sound was fuller but Rotterdam had spontaneity and good humor (plus that unseen choir). They both made excellent music and lifted our spirits. Thanks for sharing.

  • Inderjeet singh says:

    Both were best

  • Mitch says:

    This is exceptional. It reminds me why I became a professional musician. Bravi. It’s not about winners. It’s about bringing joy into a world feeling stuck and gloomy. Thank you isn’t enough.

  • Ed says:

    Bravo! Simply mangificent.

  • Kathy says:

    I vote for BOTH Rotters and Trotters. You made my yesterday and my today. Thank you so much!

  • Sue says:

    Beautiful Playing individually — great pickups for quality of tone – and fantastic editing!

  • Nancy Frommholz says:

    Stunning, Beautiful & Mesmerizing
    Thank you

  • Nicole Anderson says:

    I think they both deserve the same credit, because reaching out to perform for the whole world is an incredible act of love! Be safe…

  • Dorothy Siegel says:

    Both orchestras were fabulous. Thanks to the musicians and the sound technicians for providing us with balm for the soul.

  • Herbert Leventhal says:

    Beautiful piece of music by very talented young and dedicated musicians . I am glad I am alive to hear it. I am an octogenarian.

  • Toni Walter says:


  • Leila says:

    Omg I forgot how amazing Appalachian Spring is. Thank you so much for this.

  • Marjorie Smith says:

    So very moving. Love the TSO. Many thanks.

  • Sandy Whyte says:

    Why very you making this a contest?shame on you
    These musicians are using their gifts to bring a joy in these troubled times. Thank you to each one of you.

  • Gerry Whelan says:

    A dead heet…oops, poor choice of words, both are fabulous but I am biased toward Canadians

  • Lori Wenke says:

    So gorgeous. So inspiring!

  • suzanne says:

    We’re all in this together! I don’t want to choose who’s best. They are both astonishing, amazing, inspiring, and transported me out of confinement and made me smile!

  • Carol Good says:

    Both were fantastic! Why do you have to want people to vote for one or the other? When there’s a winner, there’s also a loser. Is that really the energy you want to create?

  • Carol Martin says:

    So, why do we need to compete? Surely this is a moment to gratefully accept the joy these people are passing on. We’re all in this together!

  • Jeannie says:

    Loved this. Can’t wait to sea it performed live in Toronto.

  • Marie says:

    For me it is a beautiful concert by both extremely talented musicians! I have forwarded it to all my music loving friends! Thank you for this concert at such an upsetting time in our world!

  • William says:

    Let us replace competitiveness with creativity. This binds us. Competition separates us. Wonderful…both!

  • Liliane Mikhail says:


  • Doris says:

    No competition…both are fenomenal!

  • Kate in MIchigan says:

    Hey, Canadians playing American music?! That’s great!

  • Rob Franks says:

    Speechless, both are amazing! Thank you

  • CBC says:

    Amazing!! Thank you so much for sharing your talent and creating a work around in the COVID-19 climate requiring social distancing

  • Kathy L London says:

    Thank you all for sharing your talent and this joy.

  • Stuart says:

    Pick a winner??? For the beauty and majesty and hope and joy they are giving us they are both glorious winners! Ludwig and Aaron are smiling.

  • Jenifer Taylor Garrison says:

    The performances by both the Rotterdam Symphony and the Toronto Symphony were beautiful and uplifting. Thank you for sharing your talent with us.

  • Jane L Rolnick says:

    Thank you all. Wonderful!

  • ildiko says:

    Thank-you I cannot decide just extremely grateful to all of you for bringing this beauitful music into my home from yours. I hope you and your families are well and stay well. Much love from Australia

  • W.O. Brisco says:

    Beautiful and comforting … thanks to all the performers!!

  • Kathy says:

    No competition….just wonderful…brings the frazzled part of the mind off the cliff…opens the heart to the amazement of music! THANK YOU! Every one of you!

  • Sidney Silver says:

    Absolutely wonderful. A joyful delight to watch and listen.

  • Jo says:

    Thank you!

  • Joan and Ed says:

    Outstanding achievement!
    Thanks so very much!

  • says:

    I think it is wrong to make it a contest, we play music to share with our audiences, to enjoy the past and bring it to the present, It should be share and not to compete, to many people has died in our state of NY and we are not thinking to compete we hope to overcome this pandemia and we are thankful for the artist that share with honesty their love to music and human kind. They honor the departed and and cheer the heros, w don’t have time now for competitions,

  • Joel Thome says:

    Both teams are favorites of mine Thanks for the pleasure of hearing them . Thanks as well to all the performers and sound engineers for making this all happen so beautifully.Terrific performance! Talking about seasons.
    MVP is Alexandra Cosunova with the Geneva Giants for the Vivaldi trophy.