This is Nashville the night the symphony shut

This is Nashville the night the symphony shut


norman lebrecht

June 14, 2020

The so-called music city cannot afford to pay its musicians for at least a year, if at all. But they were partying downtown Friday night and Covid infection rates are going through the roof.



  • Anne says:

    It seems, at least in the USA, that the musicians are the only responsible people.

  • sam says:

    Truth is, classical music as an industry never pushed back aggressively, as other businesses have, on re-opening.

    But truth also is, it is far from clear that the old audiences were going to come back even if orchestras and operas completely re-opened.

    Everyone is watching the re-opening of movie theaters as a test case, which has a far younger demographic.

    We will see how much classical music’s older demographic translates into a different economic reality.

    • Henry williams says:

      I have been to concerts abroad and i have seen very few under 70s in the audience.

    • Henry williams says:

      80% of my friends. family and work mates have no interest in classical musIc.
      This is the the problem . Some like rock music .and some do not like any music.

  • M McAlpine says:

    Same here. 6000 at a rave. More at protests.

  • Stuart says:

    Classical music is a side show in Music City. It is sad that the Nashville Symphony is in such dire straits but in reality less than half of its programming was classical in nature. Lots of popular and film music. Nashville truly is the Music City. Though I am uncertain of the long-lasting effects that the pandemic will have, a 2013 report found the following:

    Nashville’s density of music industry activity is currently 2 to 30 times greater than the nation overall, up to 10 times greater than New York or Los Angeles, and even greater compared to other cities such as Atlanta, Austin, and New Orleans

    Core Nashville employment in Nashville’s music industry per 1,000 population and per 1,000 total employment exceeds all other U.S. cities by large margins, and exceeds New York and Los Angeles by 2.5 to 4 times.

    • VW says:

      Stewart, I agree, and my sense is that having watched the Nashville symphony more or less abandoned its commitment to classical music in favor of expedient commercial crap, the financial crisis has only served to hasten its demise. It is not the fault of the symphony of course, but rather a consumerist culture hell-bent on sugar and fluff and anything else that twangs. I have felt for a long time that Nashville did not deserve the fine symphony that it had. My wife and I finally stopped going once it became too dangerous and distasteful to wade through crowds of drunk and rowdy hillbillies and shrieking hen parties on beer wagons just to get to symphony hall, only to repeat the process once the concert was over. I fear that Nashville, and in fact the United States of America is finally and sadly getting exactly what it deserves, and that isn’t much…

  • Anon says:

    Yes, no concerts allowed, but crowds are allowed and encouraged elsewhere. Bars, clubs, airlines, trains, protests, and anything else is ok. Just no concerts.

  • Peter San Diego says:

    I doubt those crazy revelers included many orchestra patrons or donors… plenty of candidates for Darwin Awards, though.

  • JPK says:

    If a bunch of COVIDIOTS want to be suicidal, let ’em. I’m staying home.

  • Anne says:

    It seems at least in that picture,they are all going to get covid.

  • Jay says:

    I’m not sure what the point is here. The Symphony is canceling its season because it cannot guarantee being able to play concerts due to health concerns for the audience and musicians. As anyone realizes a Symphony season means commitments to guest performers and conductors, who have to travel to perform. A myriad of moving parts are at risk. It’s not primarily about the musicians’ salaries although of course that’s a huge part of it. It’s about trying to keep the institution viable for the long term. Does it suck for everyone? You bet. Was it the best possible decision? Only time will tell. Does the orchestra deserve snarky criticism about trying to do the right thing? I’d say not.

  • Edward says:

    The question is, even without COVID-19, how many of the young people that partying in this photo would go to a classical concert?

    • Stan says:

      Probably not many, even if they wanted to. Nashville Symphony tickets are ridiculously over-priced.

      • Jay says:

        I’m uncertain what you consider ‘ridiculously over-priced,’ or what you’re comparing the prices to. NSO tickets are available at a wide variety of price points. Compared to a movie ticket, maybe they seem expensive. Compared to a pop or country music performance or a professional sporting event here in Nashville, definitely not so much. I’d say the NSO is tremendous bargain, for an exceptional ensemble. Your reply was in reference to the ‘young’ people pictured in the article and implies they would be unable to afford to attend the Symphony. I’m quite certain every single person drinking in that bar dropped a good deal more money on liquor and bar food that night than a lower-range Symphony ticket costs. If they were to choose the orchestra over the drinking just one time each year, we all might be better off.

        • David Rohde says:

          As you say, perceived “high prices” are usually not the explanation for people avoiding one cultural experience vs. another, no matter how much I as a consumer might wish to pay less. So I wonder why it is you think the people in the photo do not “choose the orchestra over the drinking just one time each year.” There seems to be a vibe in this discussion that the Nashville Symphony has grasped for programming choices. But it’s become well-known that this alone is not sufficient to solve marketing and demographic problems, especially when viewed as inauthentic and not integrated into a thoroughgoing marketing overhaul.

          I cannot accept some of the sneering here about “country music,” which is actually an ever-broadening field with many crossover tentacles. And I know enough about Nashville, albeit admittedly not the orchestra, to know that it is hardly an economic or cultural backwater, especially over the past decade of growth. You are probably the same commenter above who protested that the season-cancellation decision was really for health and logistical reasons, yet this comment of yours appears to recognize and regret the inability to pull in additional new audiences. Per my own comment below, I have to believe that the season cancellation at this point does have serious consequences for the orchestra’s survival and longevity, and your additional insight on the local scene there would be valuable.

    • Caitlin says:

      I’m 35, not partying right now, but do attend Nashville Symphony concerts regularly with my husband. When she is old enough I look forward to taking my daughter too. It’s an important family activity for us. Wish more people my age felt the same.

  • MacroV says:

    So the Nashville SO is a little more responsible than the population in general.

  • fflambeau says:

    The leaders of the Nashville community need to step up their support. They have a beautiful concert hall (which they financed and built) and a fine conductor. They can do it.

  • Omar Little says:

    So responsible that they’ve taken down the screens to allow more diversity on stage. Yeah. They’re the responsible people!

  • Jase says:

    Covid-19 Covid-19 Covid-19…whoopy! You still falling for the propaganda? It’s about as deadly as the common cold… why don’t you become a real journalist and spread the truth instead of everything else that is exposed 24/7 on tv! 100 million may get Covid-19 and millions may die with it but they are not dying from it.. huge difference. And besides, why would you call Nashville, the so called Music City? It is the Music City… get a real job

    • V.Lind says:

      Oh, well, we’ll all take your advice, you being a well-known medical scientist who actually KNOWS something as opposed to choosing to adopt an ideological stance.

    • Grumpy Dude says:

      Yep, 117,000 dead and counting in this country alone, but it’s just a “common cold”. Stop watching Fox News!

      • Mario says:

        Hey Grumpy, maybe you should stop drinking the leftist cool side, and get the facts. It’s a fact that 1000’s of covid 19 cases of where the person died are in fact not from covid 19, but hospitals are told to attribute the cause of death to certain individuals who died from complications of other diseases to covid 19. The more deaths from covid, the more money the hospital gets. That’s a fact, educate yourself and stop listening to CNN, and every other leftist agenda driven news, I mean fake news outlet.

        • Tuba Minimum says:

          Hospitals are losing money and laying off staff because fear of COVID is causing many to put off all but necessary procedures and operations. Seems pretty illogical for them to lie and falsify numbers for the sake of money.

        • JPK says:

          “Mario” adores the mountain of corpses being built by far-right fascists.

    • Tom Phillips says:

      Another red state genius heard from. Adorned with a MAGA hat.

    • VW says:

      It has taken the name music City, but I take issue with any industry that claims to be musical and yet most twangers cannot read a note on a page. Berlin can rightly call itself music City. Vienna can call itself music City. Nashville can call itself the drinking City, but I see little else it can truly claim, except reveling in it’s love of bawling, beer, and bragging.

  • Old Man in the Midwest says:

    If it ain’t Country, it ain’t music.

  • David Rohde says:

    Nashville is not only Music City, it is also home to a recently booming and diversifying economy (the pandemic aside). Even many Americans with older notions of the mid-South region may not realize this. Look up a list of the 10 largest employers in Nashville, which includes everything from Nissan to grocery chains and recruitment firm headquarters, as well as numerous healthcare-related enterprises. To me this should be catnip for cultural organizations – yes, including symphony orchestras. I looked up the Covid-19 update page for the Grand Ole Opry, and while their plans for reopening are a moving target, they’re certainly not planning to stay shut down for anything like a year.

    I admit that I am not familiar with the Nashville Symphony, but wiping out an entire season in advance sounds like more than just a prudent response to the pandemic. It sounds like there’s a disconnect between the opportunities available to them in their community and their capability to take advantage. I am willing to hear counter-arguments from those who are more familiar, but I feel that this needs to be said. Thanks.

  • Dennis says:

    Your evidence for the claim that “infection rates are going through the roof?” Pure propaganda. The virus has an IFR of about .016. It’s no more serious than flu.

  • Brian says:

    That’s the South for you. Where Trump and his lackey governors have convinced much of the population that Covid-19 is a hoax. And the numbers of infected people in Tennessee keep rising.

    • Stuart says:

      I live in Middle Tennessee having grown up in the Chicago area and having lived extensively around New York, London and Southern California. It doesn’t feel too “South” here and we rarely think about politics or the Federal Government. I would think that 99.9% of the people who live around here believe that COVID-19 is serious and not a hoax. Brian, come spend some time here getting to know the real Tennessee and not that version you have invented in your head. We even are welcoming of bigots like you.

      • Tom Phillips says:

        Not much evidence for this in their voting patterns and current behavior on virtually all issues of social, political and cultural importance.

      • I live here. The city of Nashville and Vanderbilt University (whose medical center is one of the best in the South, and boasts Dr. William Schaffner, a leading infectious disease expert whose quotes you’ve read in major publications lately), have both responded well.

  • Tom Phillips says:

    Naturally, for this is in the South, the most primitive and Trump-supporting region in the U.S. One known for its hostility to Science and fundamentalist religiosity. The arts never thrive in such places, let alone human reason.

  • Lee says:

    I live in Nashville. First, this picture is bogus. FAKE! The people “partying” in Nashvile on June 14th were actually protestors/rioters for the Black Lives Matter movement at the capitol not for a music venue in an enclosed space with all Caucasian kids. Picture was taken somewhere else and added to story for the sake of making an interesting story. Second, the Nashville Symphony did suspend concerts until 2021. The Nashville Mayor is remaining in Phase 2 of re-opening Nashville before moving to Phase 3 amid COVID-19 therefore concerts, live bar venues and large gatherings are not allowed. So… junk journalism strikes again. Poor journalism is a worldwide pandemic also. Quarantine yourselves from it.

    • Mark says:

      That is absolutely Kid Rock’s honky tonk on Broadway. It was one of several establishments that were issued citations over the weekend for not adhering to social distancing guidelines which that photo proves accurate. Maybe do a little bit of your own research before claiming lies and bad journalism.