Simon Rattle: We’re looking at November, earliest

Simon Rattle: We’re looking at November, earliest


norman lebrecht

May 01, 2020

In an online conversation in the past hour between Alan Gilbert (Elbphilharmonie), Karina Cannelakis (Dutch Radio), Daniel Harding (Swedish Radio) and Rattle (LSO), all four conductors seemed reconciled to various shades of fatalism.

Concerns were expressed about programming smaller orchestras for smaller audiences. Rattle was concerned that his players are unwaged and gave a clear indication that they hoped to return ‘in November, December’. But the matters being discussed range from details of repertoire to how you managed distanced bathroom breaks.

Interesting conversation, but not much hope on the near horizon.


  • James says:

    Swedish Radio is still performing. Is it the only orchestra in the world still performing??

  • sam says:

    Daniel Harding picked the 2 worst professions for a pandemic: airline pilot and conductor.

  • Jan Kaznowski says:

    And probably Maestro Harding isn’t flying so much for Air France at the moment

  • Rob says:

    Air travel for the general public will be back up and running by mid August 2020. Watch this space.

    • Amos says:

      Who wouldn’t want to share re-circulated air with strangers who may be asymptomatic for a highly contagious respiratory virus? Perhaps in business and first-class, the vanity bags will contain multiple N95 masks and gloves.

    • Saxon Broken says:

      Flights will likely restart for many airlines in July. Whether they have many passengers on them is another thing. It will take a while for people to feel comfortable flying (and sharing the air for several hours with several hundred strangers).

      • Amos says:

        Again, uninformed garbage. United Airlines has announced that in October they are eliminating 30% of their executive positions and that pilots need to be prepared for fundamental changes in the way the company is run. Today, passengers flying is down ~ 95%. The latest projections in the US predict infection rates and deaths will increase by June due to the relaxation of shelter in place. About public health and it’s implications you are clueless.

  • V.Lind says:

    The horizon is NOT near. It’s time to realise this and plan accordingly. (But adaptably, as not all facts are yet in evidence, and some solutions COULD come sooner rather than later).

  • Anon says:

    Could you provide a link to this please?

  • Berlinreport says:

    In Germany, the lockdown are slowly being lifted. What I don’t understand is that public transport systems are running again. Has Angela Merkel been to an Ubahn station in a major German city recently? People are wearing masks, but still sitting close to each other. Some trains are almost full. Air is trapped in Ubahn stations, just like concert halls. Why the f*** are concerts cancelled and under ground trains running…? I dare someone to challenge me on this. Go to Berlin or Munich and see for yourselves.. These regulations are a joke!

    • Daniel says:

      Because some people have to use the public transport to earn their life. The only ones that need a concert as a matter of survival are the musicians, not the audience.

  • John Borstlap says:

    Of course not. The future for a couple of years will be recording and streaming – unless a vaccin suddenly appears.

    • Saxon Broken says:

      We don’t need to wait for a vaccine. By the autumn the worst hit areas are likely to have herd immunity.

  • Stehplatz says:

    Is there a link to the talk?

  • Tamino says:

    Nobody knows. Corona is no shellfish. Maybe not only in months with an R.
    Three of those mentioned above head radio orchestras. Surely they can start playing sooner for their remote audiences?

  • Amos says:

    Regrettably, vaccination is the only solution to returning to what was.

    • Saxon Broken says:

      Nope, this isn’t correct. Since the virus can not be re-caught, catching it provides life-long immunity. If enough people have caught it then there will be “herd immunity”. Some of the worst hit areas are likely to be close to having “herd immunity” in the next few months.

  • Worse than the virus says:

    This is all about fear, Norman. We were told to flatten the curve so we wouldn’t overrun the hospitals. No one agreed to never ending nonsense. The result of all of this will be much worse than the virus.

  • fflambeau says:

    Realistic though.

  • mary says:

    There is ZERO chance Rattle is getting his hall built. The economy has tanked, there are bigger worries (from Brexit to virus), and the future is Berlin Phil’s live performance without an audience. Who’s going to build a hall for no audience? It’s called a studio.

  • Fabio Luisi says:

    personal responsibility

  • Barry Guerrero says:

    No, “fatalism” would be going back too early and getting players and/or audience members sick or killed. Covid doesn’t bother to tell you if it’s in the room or not. Why’s that so hard to understand.

    • Saxon Broken says:

      Er…why can not you understand that ending up locked down forever is simply not a sensible policy decision. Covid-19 is only mildly dangerous (it kills something like 1-in-300, and those are mostly people with serious medical conditions). Once we know that the health system will not be overwhelmed, we need to start relaxing the lockdown.

      Of course, you can stay in your private lockdown as long as you want.

  • Frank says:


    • Stephen Owades says:

      The conversation was hosted, and can be seen on, Alan Gilbert’s Facebook page. Participants were Mr Gilbert, Sir Simon Rattle, Daniel Harding, and Karina Canellakis.

  • Rambo says:

    Bla bla bla
    As ever with him

  • Smiling Larry says:

    At least they are facing reality. Here in Washington DC the Kennedy Center is STILL selling tickets to Lang Lang on May 23 (it’s just about sold out, act fast!), as well as several National Symphony Orchestra Beethoven concerts in the weeks immediately following. And so forth. This is ghastly. Anyone with a shred of sanity recognizes these events will not happen, but Kennedy Center management is in an abysmal state of denial about what is happening everywhere in the world around us.

    • V.Lind says:

      Well, look who lives down the road and what he’s telling them to do…not to do…what he said…what he didn’t say (same thing)…

      Hardly surprising Washington is not at the forefront of intelligent response here. Intelligent response is known as fake science.

      • Tom Varley says:

        “Well, look who lives down the road and what he’s telling them to do…not to do…what he said…what he didn’t say (same thing)…”

        Do you really think there’s a connection? I doubt that many MAGA hats are worn by Kennedy Center administrators.

      • MacroV says:

        Washington and environs is actually doing pretty well, in terms of being responsible in social distancing, etc.. Trump is probably less popular here than anywhere in the country.

  • Inversio Cancrizans says:

    Extraordinary! When discussing air travel not one of this lot mentioned the environment. Are their heads in the sand, or in the clouds, or up their individual/combined asses?!!!

    • Zhang Zhang says:

      Really? at 35:00 Daniel Harding talks directly about aviation and the environment.
      Please listen more carefully before criticizing. Using rude language when making false accusations is rather unbecoming.

      • V.Lind says:

        I wish I could get it to load, but it just keeps buffering. I am not on Facebook but do occasionally watch other things on it. This is annoying, as I would like to hear the conversation.

  • Tamino says:

    All that is needed to keep infection rates down are good hygiene as recent studies show.
    No need to engage in this hyperbole.
    It‘s not the end of the world.
    Everybody acts responsibly, and this will go away.
    Two months ago it was all about not overwhelming the hospital capacity.
    That has not happened, far from it. Except for a few hotspots and some systematic maltreatment.
    I would go out on a limb and say in another two months we can pretty much go back to normal, and, while monitoring infections, we keep the individual hygienic behavior.

    • Saxon Broken says:

      Actually, good hygiene habits will not much affect the spread. It spreads as the result of people in close proximity through sharing the same air (especially if they spend a prolonged amount of time together).

      You are right that social distancing helps reduce the speed at which it spreads. But ultimately, it will only really be stopped when enough people are immune to provide “herd immunity”. This immunity can either be through a vaccine, or from having caught the virus and recovered.