Houston, we have audience

Houston, we have audience


norman lebrecht

August 24, 2020

On Saturday night the Houston symphony played and livestreamed Mozart’s Prague Symphony under guest conductor Kensho Watanabe.

The musicians were masked and distanced, everyone having had a covid test on Tuesday.

Principal cello Brinton Smith thinks this was the first performance of a full symphony in North America since March.

A small group of masked, socially distanced guests was admitted. Smith says: ‘I’m so proud of everybody who made this possible, proving that there is a third way between being reckless and simply going into hibernation.’



  • JJ says:

    I think we have to credit the Montreal Symphony for being the first full orchestra to perform since March with their airport concert…

    • music_montreal says:

      The Quebec Symphony had concerts in their hall earlier in August with 250 people, the maximum allowed by the government health guidelines.

    • Karl says:

      Montreal has announced some concerts for a 2020-2021 season. I may have to get smuggled across the border.

    • Brinton says:

      Yes, I missed that, thanks. So the first indoor symphony in North America, or the first symphony in the US. (Things seem to be going a bit differently in Canada… perhaps in part for reasons that are best discussed elsewhere!) Let’s hope it’s the first of many more to come (safely) from all our great orchestras

  • King says:

    I guess real conductors aren’t interested in doing concerts without audience.

    • TM says:

      Kensho is a very real conductor!

    • Hal Hobbs says:

      What major orchestra are you the music director of?

      • TM says:

        Many have admired Kensho since his days as an UG at Yale. His musicianship and character are impeccable. Where did you go to school? Hahaha!

    • Hal Sacks says:

      Remember the name Kensho Watanabe. He is already well on his way to great conductorship. We hated to see him leave the Philadelphia Orchestra Asst. Conductorship. He has already recorded a program with a similarly reduced Philly Orchestra, for release within the next 2 weeks.

      • Karl says:

        I saw him when he conducted the Philadelphia Orchestra at SPAC is Holst’s Planets a couple of years ago. Then he filled in when Yannick was out in 2019 and conducted a thrilling performance of Rachmaninoff’s 1st Symphony. That put him on my list of promising conductors.

    • Nelson says:

      I guess “real” Kings aren’t interested in posting comments here.

  • MIke McGuire says:

    Step aside Montreal and Houston! The Fort Worth Symphony played a big program for the Fourth of July in the new Dickies Arena in Fort Worth. It was a much larger orchestra than Houston used to play the Prague Symphony.
    It was recorded before July 4th, but it was shown on tv July 4. It had a full wind and brass section with lots of percussion too!