The biannual conference of GMDs and chief conductors will take place digitally on May1. Ahead of their conference, the big sticks have sent an open letter to the political authorities seeking clarity about the resumption of musical life. The conference consists of 60 members, both active and retired.
The letter is a bit long so we’ve highlighted the relevant bits.
DER GMD und Chefdirigentenkonferenz e.V. · c/o Eckehard Stier · Tolstoistraße 6 · 01326 Dresden
VORSTAND Prof. Marcus Bosch (V.) Will Humburg Mihkel Kütson Open Letter of the Generalmusikdirektoren- und Chefdirigentenkonferenz e.V.
Marc Niemann Eckehard Stier
On the Current Situation of Opera Houses and Orchestras during the Corona Crisis
EHRENMITGLIEDER Prof. Dr. Peter Gülke, Prof. Dr. Hartmut Haenchen (pictured)
April 28, 2020
Dear Madame Minister of State for Cultural and Media Affairs Professor Monika Grütters, dear Minister Presidents, dear Members of the Board of the Cultural Commission of the Bundestag
The GMD- und Chefdirigentenkonferenz e.V. requests a set of guidelines for the gradual resumption of opera and concert schedules that is in line with current legal regulations and the recommendations of the Robert Koch-Institut.
Construction superstores, furniture shops and the football Bundesliga are not alone in deserving a clear future perspective accompanied by guidelines for a timely reopening.
We are well aware of the risks associated with a premature resumption of business as usual. We believe, however, that further measures forcing opera and concert venues to close without the intro- duction of a corresponding timeline that outlines when performances and rehearsals can be expec- ted to resume, will inflict irreparable damage to both German musical life and the globally unparalleled municipal theatre scene.
The unique network comprising both publicly funded musical institutions and freelance musicians is not only an essential part of the creative industry, it is an indispensable and essential part of German cultural heritage and thus of high systemic importance. For these reasons, we endorse and express our wholehearted support for the requests by freelancers to receive appropriate support in these difficult times. The current situation has also cast doubt regarding the success of the Federal Republic of Germany’s ongoing efforts to have its orchestral and theatrical landscapes adopted into UNESCO’s list of immaterial heritages.
Due to the global impairment of everyday life and the damage that the arts and cultural sectors have had to endure, it is paramount that we respond to the many calls to provide a counterweight to the hardship through inventive, creative, and energetic cultural offerings such as concerts and operas. It goes without saying that this must occur in a responsible manner, fully taking into account the necessity to protect the health of our musicians, our singers and our audiences. To this end, we are currently in discussions with the task force assigned to questions of health and safety of the Deutsche Orchestervereinigung (DOV).
We realize that it will likely be a long time before we are able to once again enjoy operas and con- certs as before. However, surely there are a number of possible alternatives to live performances that adhere to the novel COVID-19 regulations, such as open air performances of concertante operas or special productions that abide by the distancing regulations. Other possibilities would be pe formances of works written for small ensembles, such as from the baroque and classic eras, that constitute a significant part of orchestral repertoire. Conductors and string instrument players could wear masks, small choirs and wind instrumentalists could be placed at necessary distances and even additionally protected by plexiglass panes. With regard to audiences, existing measures could be adopted and altered to suit concert settings.
However, all of these suggestions and possible solutions will remain fruitless if politicians and public health departments do not come forward soon with a clear set of conditions and guidelines to this end.
The General Music Directors, Chief Conductors and their orchestras, in close exchange with the Bühnenverein and the DOV, are ready and willing to develop new, creative and exciting formats for our audiences, who miss us dearly. Orchestras have already begun creating numerous initiatives to remain visible, help those in need and express how vital it is for musicians to be able to perform. Especially during times such as these, in our evermore digitally connected world, we are deeply convinced that our analogue forms of art are increasingly important and constitute an integral part of what makes us human.
With kind regards, The Board of the GMD- und Chefdirigentenkonferenz e.V.