Liverpool Phil is first UK orchestra to restart

Liverpool Phil is first UK orchestra to restart


norman lebrecht

August 27, 2020

The Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra is to resume live performances with audience from October 1.

Each concert will be one hour with no interval. Seating is limited to 240 people, with two-metre social distancing. The orchestra, also be socially distanced on stage, will be limited to 30 players.

There will be 14 one-hour, socially-distanced concerts at Philharmonic Hall from 1 October to 4 November, with more to be announced shortly. Performers include Artist in Residence baritone Roderick Williams and Young Artist in Residence pianist Isata Kanneh-Mason.

Unlike the London orchestras, which are dependent on the South Bank and Barbican to open before they can give concerts, the Phil in Liverpool manages its own hall.

These are its opening events:
Joshua Weilerstein conductor
Thursday 1 October 7.30pm and Sunday 4 October 2.30pm
Mozart Divertimento in D
Shaw Entr’acte for String Orchestra
Ives The Unanswered Question
Beethoven Symphony No. 4

Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra
Andrew Manze conductor
Thursday 8 October 7.30pm and Sunday 11 October 2.30pm
Sibelius Suite, Mignonne
Beethoven Grosse Fuge
Schubert Symphony No. 5



  • V. Lind says:

    The Orchestra of Opera North is holding a concert at Leeds Town Hall tomorrow evening under the same terms — an hour, no interval. Social distancing.

    I’m pretty sure I heard it here first because I tipped off a pal who lives near Leeds.

    • Leo Doherty says:

      The opera north concert is a one off pilot rather than the start of the Leeds concert season that usually starts late in late Sep/Oct. No word about that yet unlike LPO who seem to be committed to a new season of concerts from 1 Oct. Good for them unlike some US orchestras that have written off the whole season 2020/21.

  • Barry Guerrero says:

    Purely out of curiosity, are ticket prices accordingly higher? Does the entire orchestra remain on a payroll? Anyway, it’s better than nothing, right?

    • Robin Bloxsidge says:

      I don’t know about the payroll issue, but I assume the entire orchestra will be on it at some time instead of being on furlough as they have been and I gather from hearing Thelma Handy (Leader of the RLPO) on the radio this evening is that they plan to get all the musicians playing again as soon as they can. The ticket prices are actually lower than normal onesat Liverpool Philharmonic.

  • M. L. Liu says:

    The RLPO would be on tour in Japan with pianist Nobuyuki Tsuii next month (September 2020; 8 sold-out performances) had COVID not intervened. They boldly announced their new 2020-21 season back in June/July, when the pandemic was wreaking havoc in U.K., and they seem determined to hold up their commitment. I applaud them and wish the orchestra the best. Incidentally, this is — sadly — the final season of conductor Vasily Petrenko with the RPLO.

  • Karen says:

    I think you’ll find the Bournemouth Symphony orchestra are starting their season with the first concert, conducted by Kirill Karabits, on 30 September. Technically making them the first UK orchestra to restart.

  • Giles Harrison says:

    Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra start their 12 concert season at Poole on 30th September with 350 seats. Maybe a Tweet correction in order?


    This is great news that should be emulated everywhere.

  • Anthony Brown says:

    Great news and a fantastic spread of concerts from the RLPO. However there are other orchestras also moving forward. The Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra has also announced a season of 12 concerts starting on 30 September, also to a limited audience of about 300 from its homebase in Lighthouse, Poole. The concerts will also be livestreamed.

  • Andrew says:

    While it’s great that they’re performing, there’s no way I will sit in an auditorium in a mask.