Amsterdam reopens hall: NY and London stall

Amsterdam reopens hall: NY and London stall


norman lebrecht

August 14, 2020

The Concertgebouw has announced a resumption of concerts from the last week of this month.

Concerts will be small-scale, repeated on the same evening.

Concerts featuring Rachmaninoff’s Symphony No. 2 under the baton of Andris Nelsons are being given on 26, 27, 28 and 29 August. The concert on Friday, 28 August starting at 12.00 p.m. will be live-streamed at and on the orchestra’s Facebook and YouTube channels.
On 2, 3 and 4 September, Philippe Herreweghe will conduct Haydn’s Symphony No. 96 (‘Miracle’) and Schubert’s Symphony No. 6. The concerts on Wednesday, 2 September and Thursday, 3 September start at 8.15 p.m. On Friday, 4 September, there are concerts at 7.00 and 9.15 p.m.
On 30 September and 1 October, chamber orchestra concerts are being led by violinist Pekka Kuusisto.
A new arrival is that of Gustavo Dudamel, who stands at the orchestra’s helm for the first time since 2013 and will be conducting works by Beethoven, Wagner and Richard Strauss on 26 and 27 November.

If Amsterdam can do it, why are Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center and London’s South Bank staying stubbornly shut for the rest of the year? If not longer.


  • Alexander Hall says:

    Good question, Norman. If we had a government run by competent people with a clear-sighted strategy it would help. Instead we have to make do with lies, lies, lies, obfuscation and media manipulation. Not a good place to start.

  • William Safford says:

    A huge difference: the state-funding model for orchestras and other ensembles in Europe, vs. the mostly-private funding in the U.S.

    In other words, in the U.S., they can’t afford to play.

    (I leave it to others to discuss the UK.)

    • V. Lind says:

      The British have been envying European subsidies since the 50s, if not before. They certainly do better than the US, which believes in subsidising nothing except big business and the defence contractors. But as Joan Plowright said to Tynan back in the day, she envied the Berliner Ensemble for its subsidies because they gave artists the “all-important right to fail.” At a time when a bad review from Clive Barnes could close a Broadway show within days of its arrival after months and years of preparation and effort.

      Europeans see art as a birthright and a necessity in civilised societies. The US sees them as a commercial proposition. Britain is somewhat in between.

    • Andrew says:

      Except, most private presenters in Europe who do not receive any funding from the state also resume their concerts in autumn this year! The longer term cancellations in UK, US are mostly done by the presenters to get out of their obligations towards contracted artists and ticket buyers!

  • Simon says:

    I welcome the return of concerts in Amsterdam. One thing to keep in mind, though, is that the Dutch have been notably cavalier about anti-corona measures, with many inconsistent (and poorly enforced) guidelines and few actual rules. I would not be surprised if a second wave in September forces the Concertgebouw into closure again.

    • Sue Sonata Form says:

      Maybe they’re a super-healthy nation with less mortality figures than elsewhere. Maybe they don’t want to trash their national economy and economic future to save old people. Maybe they want to build herd immunity to protect future generations – who have a right to a future. Maybe they choose to be a sovereign state, making their own decisions rather than being bullied by others. Maybe the huge privations of WW2 taught them all about resilience.

      Just guessing.

  • Music fan says:

    I can’t speak to the situation in the UK, but the incompetence of the US Federal government and too many states has led to a high case load which makes in person concerts out of the question. As the Greek say, “A fish rots from the head down.”

    • NYMike says:

      Here in NYC and the tri-state bubble, we’re the US leaders in tamping down the COVID curve. Absent federal leadership, a vaccine, and European funding models, it’d be ridiculous to reopen our concert halls.

  • JoshW says:

    Why is New York “staying stubbornly shut”? Are you unaware of the infection and mortality statistics in the US?

    • Peter San Diego says:

      After a horrific March and April, New York has beaten the infection rate way down. If it weren’t for the danger of infections imported from other states, NY might be able to consider reopening museums and concert venues.

    • anon says:

      I was under the impression that New York is long past peak infection/mortality, and that recent increases in infection are principally in areas that had not been so badly hit in March/April, notably Texas. But if you can provide a link to some data that say otherwise, I would be very interested to read.

    • Karl says:

      The covid infection rate in NYC is quite low at this point. The positivity rate there dropped to 1% at the beginning of July.

  • Kenneth says:

    In the US consumer demand is what will signify when orchestras can afford to play again. Watch this video. This leader in the restaurant industry is predicting that consumer demand will return to normal 9 months after an effective vaccine is introduced. So essentially beginning of 2022. How long until demand returns for orchestras? Orchestra audiences tend to be wealthier and older, the exact same population whose spending habits have decreased most this year according to statistics.

  • fflambeau says:

    I think it is a mistake. Too many great musicians could go down to the virus in this effort, noble as the attempt might be.

  • Brian says:

    We’re still seeing 50K – 60K new cases a day in the U.S.; the Netherlands sees about 700 new cases a day. A smaller country, of course, but it’s still in vastly better shape. The Trump regime’s incompetence may spell the end of a lot of arts organizations in the coming year.

  • Hmus says:

    “Stubbornly shut?” Have you not just answered your own question twice this week? Need I remind you of your Covid death count? And did you not just castigate the Marinksy Orchestra for BEING open? Come on. Norman, you can do better than this. We NEED you to do better.

  • Sharon says:

    Stafford is right. Because government subsidy of the arts in the US is so limited a classical music venue cannot afford to open with an auditorium only a quarter filled.
    Also, in the US sue happy society if people catch Covid these organizations risk a lawsuit.

    Even Broadway and off Broadway are not opening until AT LEAST January.

    New York City is even giving parents the option of determining whether to send them to physical schools part time and part time on line learning or on line learning full time for the school term starting in September. Many parents are opting to keep their kids home another semester or year, in spite of the fact that some experts believe that on line learning has been far less rigorous and may set kids back as much as two years from where they would be under normal conditions.

  • Frank says:

    To answer the question: because the epidemic is in different stages in different places. Remember when people thought it was just a thing that happened to the Chinese? It’s kind of similar to the concept of a round earth, rather than a flat pancake.
    Incidentally, it very likely that the Concertgebouw will lockdown again later.