Just in: 100 musicians are locked down after one tests positive

Just in: 100 musicians are locked down after one tests positive


norman lebrecht

October 13, 2020

The entire Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra has been sent locked down after a woodwind player tested positive for COVID-19.

All 100 musicians have been sent to quarantine camp.

The infected player, identified as the bass clarinet, was on stage at last weekend’s concerts. A colleague texted: ‘I am being taken to a government quarantine camp with no Wi-fi for two weeks.’

Forthcoming performances have been cancelled for at least two weeks.



  • Ramesh Nair says:

    Maybe the ‘Covid symphony’ might garner more performances if rescored for a piano or string quartet.
    I see F-F Guy in that flier, a very credible Beethovenian. Earlier this year I bought his Beethoven late piano sonatas, and complete Beethoven works for cello and piano. Both sets contained consistently very fine interpretations.

  • anon says:

    Weren’t the string players masked and distanced? So why do they have to be quarantined?

    No more works for winds! So true that wind instruments literally blow the virus across the stage, as if it wasn’t disgusting enough that brass and clarinet players regularly drained the spit from their instruments directly on stage.

    • Karl says:

      Someone will have to invent electronic winds where the player uses a keyboard that controls a mechanical device to blow air into the instrument.

    • Ainslie says:

      Several studies have shown that, except for flutes, woodwind instruments do not significantly spread aerosols. Clarinet players do not drain ‘spit’. And for that matter, neither do brass players. It’s condensation, which admittedly will have some contamination from saliva. Current protocol is that brass players empty their water keys onto a disposable mat, like a “puppy pad”.

      Trumpets seem like menacing super-spreaders, don’t they? If you want to see how much air goes through a trumpet, take a deep breath and exhale slowly for five to ten seconds. The metallic tubing acts like a still, condensing moisture that is then drained through the water keys.

      To the best of my knowledge, there have been zero reports of COVID transmissions from wind or brass instruments. It’s theoretically possible, but there are many more likely means of infection.

    • Bruce says:

      People like you never believe “it’s not spit, it’s condensation”… nevertheless I will try explaining it. It won’t work for you, but maybe it’s a method someone else can use to explain.

      On a cold day, if you breathe on a windowpane and fog it up, that’s condensation. If you continue breathing on the same spot, eventually drops will form and run down the glass. That is also condensation.

      If you spit on the window, that’s spit.

      • Anon says:

        Would you allow someone with coronavirus to breathe on your face? No spitting, just breathing, absolutely nothing to worry about. After all, it’s just condensation.
        Of course your point stands, but it’s irrelevant. Respiratory droplets are not technically spit, ok, thanks.

        • Maria says:

          I would tallow anyone to breath over my face as a finger. Might get the flu, or a bad cold turning into bronchitis, or some other illness before you even get Covid. They all stop you from working and looking after your family or loved ones. Who even wants a heavy cold from someone sneezing and breathing all over you selfishly? I don’t!

        • Bruce says:

          You’re the one who talked about clarinets and brass instruments draining “spit” from their instruments directly onto the stage. That was the part of your comment I addressed. I didn’t say, or mean to imply, that playing a wind instrument in an ensemble is therefore safe. But that’s not relevant 😉

          That said, I do recognize that the blowing-the-virus-all-over-the-place component of playing a wind instrument is a conundrum. I’m a flute player; ’nuff said.

  • Dan oren says:

    Only piece they can play now is COVID fan tutti

  • Nick Schleppend says:

    Isle of the Dead? (too soon?)

  • MusicianV says:

    Did the bass clarinet player give this colleague (principal clarinet) his consent to announce to the entire world that he has the virus? The infected player’s name and photo has been published in all major (and minor) media outlets in HK.

    • mary says:

      You need to consent to being reported you are a public health threat?

      • Inaustria says:

        Actually you do in most places: the person is ill, not a criminal. Or would like to be identified as “typhoid Mary”? They didnt need to say which player it was, imo.

      • John Borstlap says:

        It was not the bass clarinettist who was a health threat, but the virus.

    • Sandwich says:

      The principal clarinet and bass clarinet of the HK Philharmonic are the best of friends. They are partners in an interview series on youtube. The Facebook post was sent in order to cancel their upcoming interview, and the post was mutually agreed on by both parties.

    • An Observer says:

      It is purely insensitive and unprofessional on the part of the principal clarinet. With or without the consent of the infected musician, he should have let the orchestra management to prepare an appropriate statement to the public. He should have waited until after such official statement before saying anything about his famous interviews.

  • Guest says:

    It’s not the role of one player to out the identity of a colleague on social media — set to “Public” no less — then repeat the post on public groups. Totally inappropriate.

    • Simon says:

      This is the fifteen minutes of fame for the principal clarinet (“Andrew Simon”, as has neen reported in many news outlets). Attention seeking at the expense of a colleague. Childish and immature.

      • Anon843 says:

        No wonder! He is infamous for using a cell phone on stage during a HK Phil concert, getting caught by an audience (photographed) and reported on newspapers, but somehow got away with it. THAT was his 15 minutes!

  • Peter Borich says:

    Stage Version of Mussorgsky’s “COVIDVANSHCHINA”

  • José Bergher says:

    Mozart’s “Ave Virus Corpus.”
    Mussorgsky’s “Virus Stroganoff.”
    Sibelius’ “Der Schweinehundvirus von Tounela.”