Brucknerhaus to resume concerts for small audiences

The Brucknerhaus in Linz , upper Austria,will reopen on July 5 with a one-hour concert of music by exiled Jewish composers. A week later, the Orchester Wiener Akademie and Martin Haselböck will perform Beethovens Pastoral Symphony.

Concerts will take place in the large hall of the Brucknerhaus, but with 400 instead of 1,400 in the audience and without an interval.

Each concert will be performed twice.

These are tentative first steps towards a resumption.

 

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  • Is this going to be sustainable? Less than 2/3 of capacity while using two services by artists and using the facilities for as long as usual.

    Are artists going to be paid 2/3 or less of their usual fees? Are the facilities going to reduce the costs of lighting air-con/heating, cleaning, security etc.?

    Are people who have lost so much due to furloughs and layoffs and out and out job losses going to pay premium prices for half what they are used to?

    I applaud the initiative, but worry how it is going to work going forward.

    • For many musicians or groups, half a loaf is better than no bread….

      If there is NO income, having one-third of normal ticket sales feels like a win….

    • I live in hope that maybe, concert venues will be forced to cut the rent, which will save promoters and performers a lot of money (in London, many venues are extortionate to hire).

    • Norman does, say, after all: “These are tentative first steps towards a resumption.”

      I doubt that any performing arts organization is thinking that reducing the audience by 1/3 while increasing the service count for musicians is a sustainable model. But as others have pointed out, it’s better than nothing.

      To address your other points:

      • Unions & musicians can be flexible in extraordinary circumstances. It’s possible, for instance, to agree that two one-hour shows with an hour break in between will count as one service when normally it might be two (or one with overtime). Or if the orchestra’s standard service length is 3 hours, this could still fit within the allotted time.
      • Again, with extraordinary circumstances: reduced ticket prices would not be surprising. The orchestra might even offer subscribers ticket exchanges for concerts that were cancelled.
      • Support workers (cleaning & maintenance etc) have probably been getting paid zero, so again anything is better than nothing. I have no idea about government subsidies in Lithuania, but if any employees have been getting paid, then they can’t really complain about having to work for the money (this would go for musicians too, obviously).

      So all in all, this seems like a good first step: not as risky as performing for a crowded hall, and more profitable than performing for an empty one (or not performing at all).

    • P.S. assuming they print my first comment: I have no idea why I said “Lithuania.” I think I got this mixed up with the drive-in concert post. Coffee, save me…

  • This is good news. No good fretting away life waiting for a vaccine; Covid-19 is a Coronavirus – the same family as the common cold. Nobody has ever found a cure for that.

    Somebody is trying to kid somebody else. The ability to mutate is a significant feature of Coronavirus and the reason for its resistance to control.

    • While it is true that the common cold is caused by a coronavirus (actually several) and mutates quite quickly, an important reason why nobody has developed a vaccine is that it doesn’t really kill many people.

      Covid-19 is also a corona-virus. However, the preliminary evidence suggests it mutates much more slowly that other corona-viruses. [Of course, it has only been around a few months, so we don’t know for sure how quickly it mutates, it will take several years before we will know for sure].

  • I think that your concerns are valid. Cleaning is a major issue. A very fine flautist who is also a GP told me that the virus can remain harmful on surfaces for up to 72 hours and that wind, brass and singers could eject harmful material well in excess of 6m. Add to this every element of a public building that could be handled by a member of staff and patrons and one is looking at a huge ongoing cleaning programme throughout usage as well as after. Whereas cinemas tend to have leather/easy clean fabrics materials, many concert halls have plush absorbent hard to clean fabric and the sort of ornate fittings and features which are almost the opposite from an ideal easy-clean environment. Meeting requirements for rehearsals is one thing but operating a concert venue will be of a higher challenge level. In the UK many venues are run by charities with limited liability. Any conduct with regards to failure to protect staff or the public could remove this protection and indeed negate any public liability insurance cover whilst exposing trustees/board members to corporate prosecution. Maybe in Austria things are different but in the UK I have serious doubts that promoting conventional concerts or theatre will manage to surpass this complex of challenges from public health; staff welfare ; and corporate responsibility concerns.

  • Very little of what is going on currently is sustainable, but surely the effort to carefully explore new possibilities like this is worthwhile. Not everyone has lost their jobs or sources of income; can’t a nurse or Amazon delivery worker look forward to a live concert?

  • Here is something interesting. The British government’s chief statistician reported today that “London has the lowest R-number [in Britain]”. The R-number is the number of people each person who has the virus goes on to infect. Normally one would expect the number to be highest in big cities and lowest in the most rural areas.

    If the number is lowest in London, then one possibility is that although Londoners interact with more people each day, so many of them already have the virus that few new people are being infected.

    Aside: what is called “herd immunity” will require nearly half of people to have had the virus, and thus acquired immunity. Even the highest estimates of how many people who have had the virus suggest that below half the population has had it (but is could be a third). [I personally think it is likely to be a little lower than this, and it could be much lower…we don’t know for sure.]

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