Just in: Berlin Philharmonic adopts new distancing

Just in: Berlin Philharmonic adopts new distancing


norman lebrecht

August 17, 2020

Scientists from the Charité Berlin have agreed a new Covid protocol for orchestral layout which will be applied in the new season by the Berlin Philharmonic and the Deutsches Sinfonieorchester.

The significant changes are that strings will play one metre apart between seats instead of 1.5m. Wind players will maintain 1.5m distance, reduced from two metres. And the brass section will no longer require plexiglass partitions.

The air conditioning will operate at HEPA (High Efficiency Particulate Air Filter).



  • David says:

    I hope it works, that’s quite an investment of talent if its not safe.

    • John Rook says:

      Of course it’ll be safe. With a survival rate of 99%, this CV nonsense needs to stop right now.

      • M2N2K says:

        According to “worldometer” numbers of Covid-19 cases with known outcome, the survival rate worldwide is actually 95% – not 99. So, really – if 380 million people die, what’s the big deal? Of course at least 760 million more would almost certainly have permanent lung damage, but that is much too trivial to care about. Don’t worry – be happy!

  • CA says:

    Finally, a reasonable plan. Everyone will be watching with much interest. Kudos for doing the homework and for taking the risk. Let us all hope it works.

  • Papageno says:

    I STILL don’t get why they felt the need to cancel Hollywood Bowl with 17500 outdoor seats.

    • Mick the Knife says:

      I said the same thing months ago! Its outdoors, seats 18,000. You could socially distance the audience and still make a profit.

    • Monsoon says:

      Los Angeles County has 221,950 confirmed cases at a rate of 22,444 infections per million people.

      Berlin has 9,976 confirmed cases at a rate of 2,644 cases per million.

      See the difference?

      Do people really not understand that COVID-19 is spreading exponentially in the US while Europe more or less has it under control?

      • John Rook says:

        Notice how everyone is talking about cases rather than hospitalisations or deaths? Clinging to the final straw of rapidly-diminishing credibility. Let’s move on and get on with our lives again.

      • Sue Sonata Form says:

        We keep hearing about this and, to be honest, I’ve wondered if your national obesity epidemic and associated morbidities has something to do with those, er, figures.

    • Pertorbo says:

      Think of the crowds waiting to get in and out. Think of the lineups at concession stands and bathrooms. That explains why these summer venues couldn’t open safely.

    • M2N2K says:

      If you “still don’t get” it, Hollywood Bowl is lucky that you are not in charge there.

  • Robin Mitchell-Boyask says:

    The same with the Philadelphia Orchestra, which could hold its fall concerts at the outdoor Mann Music Center but today announces it is cancelling the entire season

  • MacroV says:

    So how many more people will this allow onstage. Too soon for any audience?

    The Berlin Phil is fortunate in that the Philharmonie has all sorts of nooks and crannies where they can place players for more creative works and renditions.

  • Alank says:

    Just finished viewing the excellent live stream of Beethoven’s 9th from the Salzburg Festspiel. The 75-year old Muti conducting a full symphony orchestra, choir and soloists. Meanwhile in snowflake America healthy children are forbidden from attending school. One does not have to be cavalier or foolish about the dangers of COVID19 but the infantilization of much of out population is complete.

    • VdM says:

      US: 15 daily new infection per 100,000 inhabitants. Austria: 2/100,000. Context is everything.

    • Derek says:

      Obviously, the rate of infection is much higher in the USA so concerts are a problem but you are right that Salzburg is getting back to some normality in performance. Well worth seeing.

      Symphony orchestras playing only chamber works and small ensemble pieces will not appeal.

  • Doc Martin says:

    A recent paper in BMJ suggests 2m is not far enough, certainly not 1.5m. The study showed aerosol transmission in hospital wards can reach 5m and over. Remember many cov-19 cases are asymptomatic. Wear an n95 mask if possible, especially indoors. Would not risk it at all. Last time I attended the philharmonie was for a lieder recital with Christian Gerharer and had a encounter with a grumpy Berliner!