What’s the point of a concert in an empty shopping mall?

What’s the point of a concert in an empty shopping mall?


norman lebrecht

July 29, 2020

Among the most pointless Covid-era initiatives we have seen is this new film of the London Mozart Players doing their stuff in an empty mall.

The playing is average, there is no dynamic differentiation, musical balance is poor and the filming is repetitive and limited. You hardly hear any inner parts, especially the violas. All you will remember is the matching masks.

This kind of gesture does music little good.



  • Alphonse says:

    It strikes me that there has been a plethora of these sorts of videos lately.

  • Peter says:

    Good try, but what’s with the matching red stuff?

  • lol says:

    Thanks for your really useful insight…

  • Doug says:

    When I practice every morning, there’s no one there to listen either.

    We play *because we have to*

    What “does music little good” is hysteria. and it’s a downright shame to see so many willing to twist the knife into the music industry…including musicians! Just look at the number of down votes:

  • Rustier spoon says:

    Go Ben, go!

  • Novagerio says:

    Eine Kleine Nicht Musik?

  • Hilary Davan Wetton says:

    I think there is always a point in skilled musicians making music together wherever they can. And the glib suggestion that there is no dynamic variety is simply nonsense; the Tchaikovsky, in particular, if full of light and shade. Of course, it is not an ideal setting for music, but want is the alternative. Do you want these fine musicians just to sit at home and allow their skills to atrophy? I think it is an inspiriting video, reminding us of all that we are missing. Hilary Davan Wetton

    • Maria says:

      But it this is just not what we are missing! We are missing being at a live concert not more recorded online stuff, or Wagner with a string quartet or similar in a carpark.

    • Simon says:

      I totally agree with Hilary. I might rather ask what is the point of such a mean-spirited blog from you Norman? I realise I might be accused of bias as a former MD of the orchestra but I say well done to them for doing their best to keep the orchestra in employment and continuing to find ways to perform together.

      Why be so snide? Isn’t the world depressing enough at the moment without this sort of negativity? For sure there are terrible things happening in the music world at the moment. Only you, Norman, could turn a positive into a negative. Shame on you.

  • Eric says:

    I imagine one of the primary reasons for this is to raise money to enable them to stay in existence. (There’s a request to donate at the front of the video.) So, is this a bad thing then? Maybe cut them some slack. Times are difficult enough as it is without sticking the boot in on an influential blog.

  • Dennis says:

    What’s the point? Virtue signalling. “Look how obedient and submissive we are to inane and arbitrary diktats. No one around, but don’t we look cute in our matching muzzles.”

  • Mick the Knife says:

    The mall appears to be a low cost place where the musicians can distance without and audience. They produced a live concert and made it available to the audience for a small, optional, donation. What is there to hate? Its beautifully played so enjoy it and stay appreciative.

  • Greg Bottini says:

    Get up on the wrong side of the bed today, did we, Norman?
    Run along and have a nice cuppa, there’s a good lad.

  • Jordan Brown says:

    I hear excellent playing with lots of dynamic nuance, I also hear violas. WTF NL?

    • Henry williams says:

      I wish i could play like them. I spent a lot of money on music lessons and i could
      Never pick it up.

  • geoff says:

    Norman, you should do better. What more do want? Yesterday I went to a concert in the parking lot of the Steinway Piano Gallery. There were cars and trucks passing within yards of the 30 or so in the audience sitting in their own chairs, all within social distance. The pianist donated his time, and he was no slouch either. Better than sitting at home twiddling your thumbs or using the keyboard to berate artists.

  • Barry Guerrero says:

    Hey, it’s a place for them to get together and play. Period. Why’s that difficult to understand?

  • Nick says:

    No point!

  • Bored Muso says:

    clearly the band are desperate to keep their name alive and it is a mere sad publicity stunt.

  • Polo says:

    As shown at the beginning they’ve done this to obtain much needed donations.

  • Bruce says:

    “All you will remember is the matching masks.” Actually, I think I will remember the lovely Elgar… and your petulant remark about masks.

  • Karl says:

    I went to a mall concert once with the Empire State Youth Orchestra. What’s worse than a mall concert? No concert at all.

  • Anon says:

    Counterpoint: you could close your eyes and enjoy the music.

  • Edgar Self says:

    The size of hall, fee, audince, or performers’ shoes is of no matter, as are reviews, ticket sales, program notes, blog accounta,– all ephemera. as cpild be said pf the music also. bit tjere are degrees even of mutability. The only thing that matters is the music. Does the falling tree make sound waves if no-one heas it? It does.

    Music grows out of silence,d and returns into silence. We are the space in between.

    I went to a noontime piano recital at Harold Washington Library’s neo-Baroque fortress with gigantic bronze gargoyles. AS good pianist, because of time, locale, and lack of publicity, played a good program for perhaps six people, who chafed their hands applauding, rewarded not by the courteous, grave bows of the artist, but by the music he had just ccreated for us out of nothing. How beautiful are these silences and nothings. What else matters?

    Being Rubinstein, the grand Arthur took a different approach. Greeted by a handful at his first recital in Spain, he closed up shop and invited them all to dinner at rhe hoel nearby. His second recital was sold out to hungry music consumers.

  • Henry williams says:

    I wish i could play like them. I spent a lot of money on violin lessons i could never pick it up.