Best (and worst) of the at-home videos

Best (and worst) of the at-home videos


norman lebrecht

May 02, 2020

The efforts by orchestras to stay in touch with their public have reached saturation point. Many are tediously repetitive. Few will last the test of time. So this might be a good moment to put them to your vote.

These are the ones we think are best

1 Rotterdam Beethoven 9 – first out of the traps and by far the most watched

2 Toronto Appalachian Spring – close behind

3 Juilliard Bolero fizzing with talent

4 International Enigma – the first global feed

5 Rainmakers of Bergen

6  Shanghai – where it started

7 The handwashing string quartet

We were unimpressed by the unoriginal offerings of major US orchestra.

Feel free to add your own favourites.

Vote in the comments section below.



  • DG says:

    The most moving (to me) was from the Met Gala – the tribute to Met Orchestra violist Vincent Lionti who passed away from COVID. Joyce DiDonato sang accompanied by the Met viola section, each playing from home.

    • V.Lind says:

      I found the Met Gala uneven and some of its sound grating, but it was a massive effort and very worth checking out. I continue to be amazed that SD seems to have no-platformed it.

      • Stephen Owades says:

        Mr Lebrecht’s hatred for Peter Gelb must be one reason why the Met Gala went unremarked here. I realize the live stream was on the Sabbath, but it was available for another day. I was deeply impressed by the contributions of so many fine artists who were willing to expose their unvarnished work (and selves) live in this way.

  • Andreas B. says:

    My favourite:

    The Lyon Conservatoire’s international clarinet students and their professor Nicolas Baldeyrou did a fantastic Candide Ouverture:

    Brilliantly performed and edited, with players locked down around the world, this brings a tear to my eye – as well as immense joy every time I come back to it.

    • Bruce says:

      Ha – that was actually really good! I really didn’t expect to enjoy it, but I did. Thanks!

  • Berend Stumphius says:

    Some shameless self promotion:

    Enjoy our ‘digital sing along Matthew Passion’, with over 100 amateur singers joining from home.

    • Alphonse says:

      The world needs less shameless self-promotion right now, not more. More contemplative silence and less “look at me!” noise. These innumerable “at-home” videos are bordering on insufferable.

      • Hornbill says:

        You don’t have to watch them

      • Bruce says:

        The world could also use fewer curmudgeons right now.

        It’s possible that some people — not you, of course, but other people — might actually appreciate being told about that St. Matthew Passion and enjoy listening to it.

      • Enrique Sanchez says:

        Alphonse, then WHY did you not practice that contemplative silence on this board? And save us from your insufferable diatribe? (It’s obvious you wanted everyone to look at you.)

  • Gianluigi says:

    A polish orchestra which have made already a few recordings of that kind.

  • Steve says:

    Not classical but one of the most instructive!

  • A.L. says:

    Saturation point is right.

  • Timothy Verville says:

    Lots of great videos out there. The NY Phil’s Mahler brass video just recently released was nice.

    At the Georgia Symphony, we created a 360 degree moveable virtual choir with adaptive audio that changes as you look around. Hope you enjoy:

  • perturbo says:

    NY Phil Bolero is excellent–great use of video editing in which the snare drummer is in silhouette and the other players’ windows open over him.

  • Paul says:

    Although this is not a classical symphony orchestra, The Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra did an incredible job on the quarantine/at-home made video of Charlie Parker’s “Yardbird Suite” that opened their “Worldwide concert for our culture” with Wynton Marsalis:

  • Skippy says:

    I’ve been shocked by the level of playing I’ve seen in the Boston Symphony’s “BSO@home” videos, particularly by the strings. Sloppy intonation, indifferent phrasing. They sound like members of a conservatory orchestra, if that. Did those folks just luck out on audition day? It’s caused me to regard the BSO in a whole new light, and not a good one…

  • Scott says:

    Colorado Symphony sounds good!

  • anon says:

    I find the notion of “voting” on these online offerings made in this unprecedented time, which is distressing, tragic and frightening for many musicians, incredibly offensive.

    I applaud any musicians who make the effort to remain connected publicly to their art. Many of these groups can expect no direct reward (let’s call it a salary or payment) for their efforts.

    Rather than produce an award winning original performance, some musicians may have found it necessary to file for unemployment, contact their mortgage and credit card lenders to beg mercy and hunt down online students or other alternative wage sources.

  • Anonymous says:

    “We were unimpressed by the unoriginal offerings of major US orchestra.”

    This is a truly distasteful thing to say during this horrific time. Musicians and artists donate their talents to make others happy, not to gain your approval.

    Kudos to all who have contributed in any way to help people forget their woes and lift them up through the beauty of music!

    • Skippy says:

      “Distasteful”? I dunno. Maybe I was too rough on “BSO@home” but these are professionals still drawing (very comfortable) salaries from well-endowed institutions, which is a fat lot more than the proverbial starving artist can expect. I’d have thought their standards would be commensurate with the reputation of their employer.

      In this context, a shoutout to Nathan Cole of the LAPhil, whose video offerings really set the bar for his orchestral colleagues.

  • Claudio says:

    there are not only orchestras!

  • Geoff Cox says:

    This concert given live by the Berlin Phil was excellent!
    01 May 2020

    Arvo Pärt
    Fratres (version for string orchestra and percussion)
    György Ligeti
    Ramifications for strings
    Samuel Barber
    Adagio for Strings, op. 11
    Gustav Mahler
    Symphony No. 4 in G major (arranged for chamber ensemble by Erwin Stein)
    Christiane Karg soprano

  • JulMe. says:

    I would have preferred a voting: which video do you like best?

    And not: which video is the best?

    These videos are good-will, stay-connected experiments and not meant to be a quality production.

    If it were a quality production, every participating musician has to go and buy a good audio- and video recording equpiment, or a new i-phone. Which was not possible everywhere in lockdown.

    It would also depends on who made the base track and how.

    And the quality also depends on if someone from the orchestra edited the video himself on a home computer, or if you had a professional sound and video editor with a studio.

    There is a musical reason why you don’t usually record a classical ensemble in the same way as a pop production, where you would record each voice and instruments separately and mix them later.

  • Rudiger says:

    “Best” and “Worst” of these volunteer efforts done out of the goodness of musician’s hearts? How asinine.

  • Jeffrey Biegel says:

    Not just orchestras, as Claudio mentions. Here is a video which debuted yesterday (May 1), created by my student at Brooklyn College, joining 300 voices and orchestral players from 15 countries.

  • fflambeau says:

    I think that the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra playing Nimrod should be listed among the best. It was among the first of these kind of videos and among the best. It can be be seen here (more than 110,000 hits) with almost 3,000 likes:

    The MSO also explained in detail how they did this in a post on their web site.

    I’m impressed at what they are doing under their new music director, Ken-David Masur.

  • Youri says:

    All are so great since they want to play together and want to do something good in this terrible situation. Please look at this. It is from the great orchestra musicians from all over the world. Very touching.

  • Daniela says:

    My personal favorite has to be my hometown’s orchestra video down here in Miami! So moved to see them all come together from so many places and still transmit their good spirit.

  • James Waters says:

    Not an orchestra. But Stile Antico’s Soem
    In Alium takes the biscuit

  • Nathalie says:

    Le Ballet de l’Opéra de Paris dansant sur Romeo et Juliette, pour dire merci au personnel des hôpitaux

  • Jonathan Sutherland says:

    This video montage from the Gran Teatre del Liceu in Barcelona is worth seeing.
    Admittedly Jorge de León is not exactly Franco Corelli and given the footage of empty streets, ‘tutti dorma’ would be more appropriate than ‘nessun dorma’, but there is an honesty and charm about this clip which makes it both appealing and surprisingly moving. Diez puntos for artistic and technical design as well.

  • Daniela says:

    Wanted to share my hometown’s orchestra! SO IN LOVE WITH THIS VIDEO! Music is music, no matter what form. Thank you MISO for this… check them out

  • Tony Bridge says:

    The most stylish of the current crop…