When an orchestra is sent home

When an orchestra is sent home


norman lebrecht

March 13, 2020

A leading conductor tells us:

I have never seen so many people with blank stares on their faces.  Last night, at rehearsal, when the orchestra was basically told that the concerts might be cancelled, very few members asked questions.  At that time there was no clarity on what was occuring and that unknowing feeling has been felt throughout the country today.  



  • Mustafa Kandan says:

    Yes. The responses to this crisis is infinitely worse than the original cause, which is a serious virus, not totally understood, but ultimately not the worst in history. Most of us may end up catching the virus and recuperate, some of us will be very sick and some unfortunately will fall victim to it. We have decided to sacrifice everything in order to pretend that the spread of this virus could be stopped by such inadequate means.

    • Mike Schachter says:

      We are steering blindfold, certainly not the worst ever but bad enough and very contagious indeed. The human and economic cost will be horrendous.

      • Tone row says:

        Yes, and a few months time we may want some music to pick us up again so lets not lose it. See Richard Morrison in today’s Times. Mass orchestra/opera/theatre bankruptcy and terminated artistic careers would be imminent in event of imposed closures.

        In terms of scale here, surely many times more bodily fluids are aerosoled and spread in night-clubs and football terraces than in symphony concerts…

        • Alexander Hall says:

          Though I never experienced it myself, I know how World War II impacted on ordinary people’s lives and how necessary it was for them to seek solace in listening to live music. People went in their overcoats to sit in cold halls during their lunch breaks, knowing that there could be a bombing raid at any moment, because of the power that music exercised and the comfort it gave. I am more than a little concerned at the drastic and blanket cancellation of all live cultural events in continental countries – where politicians are more in evidence in front of the cameras and microphones than scientific experts – and worry at the immediate and long-term effects on musicians and loyal audiences alike. The UK may of course follow and spread existential worries amongst musicians as fast as the virus is thought to be circulating. Have we got this quite right? I don’t really think so. If people were able to carry on in WW2, why is it deemed impossible to do so during the current crisis?

          • Talking the talk says:

            Is there anything stopping musicians with unexpected time on their hands, stepping away from the ‘business’ of putting on concerts and creating product and content and getting a little closer to the spirit of music by going to a local church or venue of under 500 capacity, playing to people and thereby providing much needed solace through music at this time?

        • David K. Nelson says:

          Yes but look out at the audience of a typical classical concert and one sees a heavy concentration of the “frail elderly.”

      • Saxon Broken says:

        Mike Schachter: “very contagious indeed”

        Not really. Each person with the regular flu typically infects 1.3 people. Each person with COVID-19 flu typically infects about 2.3 people each. Its a bit more infectious, and also a bit more dangerous (at a guess it will likely kill around three or four times more people than the regular flu).

  • Bruce says:

    My orchestra shut down yesterday too, until April 10.

    This is the worst possible time in the season for this to happen, since we are about to launch our brochure & advertising campaign for next season. This is always a financially vulnerable time since existing subscribers haven’t started renewing yet and new ticket-buyers haven’t yet been reached by the marketing effort. Things are usually looking up again by April, but financially this is the low point of the season.

    Fortunately (I guess), there weren’t a huge number of concerts going on right now, but one of the cancelled shows is “Star Wars in Concert,” which they were hoping would bring in a lot of money.

    If you have tickets to a cancelled concert, consider turning the money you paid into a donation instead of taking a refund.