Musicians, please think before you fly

This week, Jordi Savall’s ensemble had to cancel a tour after seven musicians, including the maestro, contracted Covid-19 while performing in Poland.

All 100 players in the Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra were sent to a Chinese quarantine camp after one musician tested positive.

Berlin’s Staatskapelle cancelled a European tour.

In Russia, Yuri Bashmet resumed conducting two weeks to the day after he contracted Covid.

The Russian violinist Maxim Vengerov tested positive.

The Peruvian violinist Norman Bernal died of Covid, as did two conductors.

And still, every day, we receive messages from musicians in airport lounges, just about to fly to the next gig.

Think about it.

Covid-19 has gone wild again.

You could catch it yourself, bring it back to your family or spread it among any number of people unknown to you, who may fall sick and die.

Think again, please.

Is that journey really necessary?

 

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  • You can die from many causes, the Coronavirus is just one of them (and quite unlikely), another would be the lack of food, you have to eat and that costs money. If you don’t eat, you die (100% chance).

    In fact, despite all the absurdity we have fallen into, in this world, on any given day (today for example) many more people die from starvation than from Coronavirus. However we are full of paranoia waiting for the vaccine and it does not matter that millions of people have not been able to eat anything today.

    The contrast when it comes to mobilizing resources between the two cases is abysmal.

    • The coronavirus is just one way to die.

      It’s also the way that 210,000 Americans have died since March, including three people I personally knew.

      • May I add, for those not yet grasping the horrendous magnitude of this hecatomb, that the current US tally of Covid-19 fatalities equals nearly FOUR times the total losses of US military forces in the entire Vietnam war.

        As of 2020-10-14, the US Covid-19 death toll was 216872.
        The verified US armed forces casualties total for the entire duration of the Vietnam war, 1955-1975, including the undeclared phase, amount to 58318.

        The United States has allowed FOUR TIMES as many civilians to die of an avoidable transmissible infection in 7 1/2 months as it has sacrificed military personnel in 20 years of the most brutal armed conflict.

        Can anyone remember the Vietnam era anti-war demonstrations?
        Where are the anti-Covid-19 demonstrations now?
        No, the only mass demonstrations we are seeing are those of Covidiots, claiming the right to die, to harm and to kill.

        If this does not signal a breakdown of civilisation, I don’t know what does.

        • If these deaths were amongst fighting-age individuals your scenario would be truly frightening. How about your road toll for the year; your toll from cancer and other dietary-related causes? Or influenza?

          Hysteria is a national past-time it seems. A breakdown of civilization? How about 600,000 abortions? (Sound of crickets)

          You need to enjoy every single day you’re alive and well and be thankful your life expectancy is the highest ever in the history of the world.

      • How are musicians supposed to financially support themselves not to mention everybody else out of a job?

        Nobody seems to have the intellectual capacity to answer this basic question who first criticizes with leftist talking points. We’re waiting!

        • What solutions have the musicians themselves offered to the managements of orchestras and opera companies during this period, both in terms of performance opportunities and restructuring? Are they merely victims or can they also be activists?

          • You’re admitting that all of these bloated managers are not worth their high salaries so that’s good.

            It is THEIR JOB to lead and “manage” since you’re ignorant of the working world. Excusing your obvious youth and inexperience, the onus is always on MANAGEMENT, not the contracted or employed to formulate and execute plans.

            Also, telling people to turn into activists is really stupid. Their too busy going hungry and losing their homes to engage in fruitless whining. Did you have any idea of these facts??

            However burning down some venues and beating up management would be positive though as it has worked for the antifa-blm cult. They too would face no police opposition and be celebrated on most of the networks. Good idea!

            Actually the more realistic answer in the US with states that refuse to open is to SUE the state, governor, ag and mayor in order to get back to work. It would certainly give agma the chance to prove their veracity as a “union”. If they don’t, soon those annual dues won’t be flowing in from the disenfranchised unemployed.

            At this point yes, they are victims of Democrat run states as they have been denied the right to work by herr Cuomo.

        • Since the Left generally has no sociological imagination don’t expect any answers other than ‘nanny has to protect me’.

        • I am a musician, as are my colleagues.

          There are many answers to that question.

          I just came home from performing in a concert at a local college, outdoors and socially distanced. I was paid for it, just as I have been for many similar gigs.

          Most of my other gigs are gone for the time being, but several of us are working on creative ways to keep performing, and keep earning income.

          Many musicians I know have taken non-music-related jobs to tide them over for now.

          Many musicians have teaching positions, which give them some financial stability and health insurance.

          Many musicians have switched their private lessons to remote teaching.

          Many musicians have retired.

          Many musicians have chosen to change careers, or will do so.

          In the U.S., the failure of Republicans in Congress and the President to pass a robust second stimulus bill and sign it into law, means that millions of people will, in fact, face the dilemma that you posit.

          We are in a pandemic. We need to take appropriate steps to slow down this pandemic, not only to keep ourselves individually as safe as we can, but collectively as well.

          • You’ve created absolute certainty in my black vote for Trump. Thanks William!!

            Since you’re uninformed, NYC remains CLOSED to all live performances through at least the middle of next year which means NO JOBS OR INCOME for the ecosystem it encompasses.

            CBS NY
            https://youtu.be/4Q4t7QUaUCU

            Engaging in your defeatist, pablum posturing and not admitting that Pelosi along with the Dems should have had round two of the stimulus passed (WITHOUT interjecting their self-serving pork in the bill) and done with back in June or July repels US citizens from the left like myself.

            Nancy just argued with Wolf on CNN a couple of days ago as even he (a white, male liberal) is bringing up the homelessness and SUICIDES happening under HER WATCH. As everyone can see, she’s too busy antagonizing President Trump to get a clean bill passed in her deranged, drunken state. Can’t wait to cast my vote for TRUMP.

            CNN
            https://youtu.be/gqPltMpWIwo

          • Do you intend to demonstrate to us how uninformed you are, or is it inadvertent?

            *I* am the one who presented information concerning the state of affairs in New York City to the New York Philharmonic blog post:

            https://slippedisc.com/2020/10/breaking-new-york-philharmonic-calls-off-concerts-until-september-2021/#comments/633549

            The House of Representatives passed the relief legislation months ago. The Senate Majority Turtle has obdurately refused to act on it. The infected orange enemy of the people flip-flopped: first canceling all negotiations with House leaders, then calling for a deal that the Turtle will never acquiesce to.

            The question was how musicians are supposed to support themselves. I gave an answer.

            You demonstrated that you did not read my message very carefully. That’s on you.

            As for the rest of your message, those are right wing propaganda innuendos, not worthy of any attention.

            If you want to vote for a kleptocratic, bigoted, white supremacist facist-wanna-be kakistocrat, you be you.

      • Please, take a look here:

        2019-2020 U.S. Flu Season
        https://www.cdc.gov/flu/about/burden/preliminary-in-season-estimates.htm

        Such impressive flu numbers have never seen notable media coverage.

        And yet, now we have higher figures, but not massively higher than the flu, and we are in a madness that has no end: Millions of people without jobs, economies of entire countries annihilated, etc.

        A real nonsense that has no rational justification. The difference in figures between the flu and the Coronavirus does not justify the hysterical reaction in the second case, while in the first, year after year, the effects on daily public life have always been zero.

        • You cannot simply compare the numbers. Has any government needed to shut down the whole nation, close the borders ,and require everyone on the street to wear a mask for a normal flu season? What is the last time you need to wear a mask in your life? Remember the current toll of COVID-19 is after numerous suffering on business and personal lives around the world, and huge resources invested in medication.

        • “The infection fatality rate of COVID-19 is several-fold higher than that of seasonal influenza(2) and infection can lead to persisting illness, including in young, previously healthy people (ie, long COVID(3)). It is unclear how long protective immunity lasts(4) and, like other seasonal coronaviruses, SARS-CoV-2 is capable of re-infecting people who have already had the disease, but the frequency of re-infection is unknown(5)” https://www.johnsnowmemo.com/

      • Impressively low number considering it originated so very far away in little Wuhan, China.

        Your comment gives me high confidence in Trump’s leadership over Hillary’s Mr. Safford. Good man!

        I would like to extend my condolences for those you’ve allegedly lost. They were older with other health issues I imagine??

        • The dead whom I knew comprise a police officer neighbor, who was in his 30s and left behind a wife and two small children; a minister; and a member of the Metropolitan Opera orchestra. Two of the three were in excellent health until they were sickened then killed by COVID-19.

          If your message is intended to be taken ironically, then consider it taken in that vein.

          If you are serious, as I suspect that you are, then you have low regard for the hundreds of thousands of people in the U.S. and elsewhere who have been killed by this insidious disease, or the millions who have been sickened. Many are permanently injured by their exposure to COVID.

          Two colleagues survived their exposures to COVID. One got off relatively easily: she completely lost her sense of smell and taste for a month, and was sick as if she had a bad case of the flu. Her husband was hospitalized, and was incapacitated for months. She is recovered, but he is still on the mend six months later.

          This is not over. In fact, this could be just the beginning, depending on how long it takes to create, produce, and distribute a vaccine, and depending on whether or not people take this seriously and abide by protocols such as wearing masks and socially distancing.

          • Pre-existing conditions and age again with poor lifestyle decisions no doubt. Jobs don’t dictate a moral lifestyle, look at Levine.

            There were a lot of problems in NY nursing homes when Gov Cuomo decided to pack them in so folks would be treated equally.. He sure killed a lot of people using his white privilege then blamed nurses.
            Cute of him, isn’t it? Ok to laugh it off since he’s a dem though..

            Herd immunity will eventually kick in as people won’t wear masks and social distance for one reason or another. Libs like antifa are too arrogant and blm are too angry. Now Jews in ny are too sensitive as usual and turned violent to boot. The poetic justice is they’re all obnoxious but they’re all getting sick. Check the data and science…lol..lol

            Seriously, everybody’s lifetime is limited no matter what you do. Fact.

          • Herd immunity may kick in, once several million Americans are killed–maybe.

            Or, the virus may just keep killing and injuring people.

            We do not know yet.

            Anyone who spouts the right-wing talking points that “herd immunity” is a good answer to handling the pandemic, is either profoundly ignorant, or a sociopath.

            It’s appalling that the infected orange enemy of the people has politicized wearing a mask. Wearing one is easy to do, inexpensive, and has the potential to save countless lives. Yet he apparently wants more people to die. The weirdest part? The most susceptible in our population to the virus, are the block of voters who were most likely to vote for him: the elderly. He’s killing his own potential voters!

            We are at over 200,000 deaths this year above normal. This is the equivalent of something like 1000-2000 passenger jet crashes in one year–and we still have 2-1/2 months yet to go.

            Everyone dies. Why unnecessarily hasten the deaths of potentially millions of people?

      • Perhaps it’s an ideal time for the American people to examine their national epidemics of obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes and heart disease – all risk factors and the major reason so many have died in your country. Stop blaming your government and take some personal responsibility.

        There’s an opportunity cost to not watching your diet, as I’m only too well aware myself.

        • You are correct–it is time for people to take personal responsibility.

          They should, among other things:

          -wear a mask
          -socially distance
          -get tested
          -otherwise follow the CDC guidelines (at least those that were not corrupted by the minions of the infected orange enemy of the people).

          That is to say, do the opposite of what the orange enemy of the people says.

          Don’t be tribal. Don’t show your allegiance to the corrupt and corrupted Republican Party by flouting personal responsibility.

          Isn’t it a shame that hundreds of thousands in America are dead, due to the incompetence and self-serving political choices of the orange one.

          Oh–and another way to show that you are a responsible person, is by not repeating lies over and over again. Take personal responsibility, and stop repeating right wing lies and propaganda.

          • You left out how all of these people are to support themselves financially with no work on.

            Be SPECIFIC and apolitical as well.

          • That “apolitical” ship already sailed–and thousands aboard it were infected due to the negligence of the current Administration.

            The mere fact that shutdowns had to be done, shows that the Federal government’s approach to the virus is an utter failure.

            The shutdowns were necessitated, because the orange infected enemy of the people failed in his job to protect the people of America. He failed to pay attention to the scientists. He failed to take any substantiative actions back in January, when his advisors first informed him of the dire situation. (Canceling airline flights to and from China barely qualifies as action.) He then twists the facts, subverts the scientists, mocks mask wearing, and so much more.

            It also shows an utter failure of enough of the people of American to treat the virus seriously and to take reasonable precautions: to wear a mask, to socially distance, to limit unnecessary contact with others, and so much more. Many of them do so at the behest of the orange enemy of the people, so culpability again circles back to him.

            This pandemic was politicized by the infected orange enemy of the people and his minions. We suffer to this day with the consequences of his neglect of this crisis, then his twisting of the facts.

            Hundreds of thousands have died needlessly, due to the incompetence and gross mismanagement by the orange infected enemy of the people.

            This utter lack of regard for the American people continues with the refusal of the Republicans to support the Democratic House bill to offer continuing financial support to the very people you cite as being out of work due to the pandemic in general, and the shutdowns in particular. They should receive support, as you correctly point out. The Republicans are refusing it to them.

            If you believe that the government should act to help support those with no work, then contact your elected Representative, Senators, and the White House, and tell them so. Then again, if your Representative and Senators are Democrats, then they already support it. And if they’re Republicans, then either they reject it, or they’re under the thumb of the Majority Turtle. Tell them to act!

            The Orange One should have been impeached and removed from office before any of this happened. He should not even be standing for reelection. Since he is, he should be defeated in a landslide, and every supporter of his in the Republican Party should also be swept out of office next month. They have betrayed the trust of the people, and hundreds of thousands of deaths are on their hands.

    • Yes, of course many people die of many causes everyday, but it does not mean that we have to risk our health just for the heck of it.

  • I dont understand this post, considering that this is a blog about classical music. “Is that journey really necessary?” Undoubtedly it is, if the musician has a family to feed. Or what would you suggest that musicians do? Unfortunately one can become infected with Covid at the local grocery store, it isnt reserved for those who “thoughtlessly” travel.

    • Since this blog is about classical music, this post has everything to do with the current situation musicians are in. We can’t read only about Anna’s next engagements.

    • I had tentative plans in March to fly with one of my instruments to have it serviced. Needless to say, I did not do so. Nor have I done so since then. Although my instrument is overdue for service, the journey is not really necessary. It can wait for now.

  • …or spread it among any number of people unknown to you, who may fall sick and die.

    But very, very, very probably won’t.

        • The numbers collected by the CDC are those who die with it as the cause of death, not a coincidental illness.

          It makes no sense to say “of 7.5 billion” when 7.5 billion haven’t contracted the disease. Surely if someone shot your mother, you would reject the rationalization that “well, she’s just 1 out of 7.5 billion”

          • From this week’s Spectator magazine:
            Global deaths 2017 (Source: WHO):
            Heart disease 9.4m
            Stroke 5.8m
            Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease: 3m
            Lower respiratory infection: 3m
            Dementia: 2m
            Lung cancer: 1.7m
            Diabetes: 1.6m
            Road injury: 1.4m
            Diarrhoea: 1.4m
            Tuberculosis: 1.3m

            Seeing that obesity and its teachings are worse now than they were thrhee years ago, these figures are probably higher today.

          • “From this week’s Spectator magazine:
            Global deaths 2017 (Source: WHO):”

            No mentioning of “killed with a spoon”. Hm! Wanna go first? Statistics say it’s not that bad. 😉

  • It seems to me that this blog has spent the last six months consistently criticizing organizations for not doing more to present live concerts. Now the musicians are being irresponsible for doing them? Which is it?

    • I think it is possible to be revising one’s opinion on the wing, as it were, as more information — and more evidence — becomes available. If that’s what NL is doing, it is admirable.

      Let’s face it, there have been dramatic outbreaks in various musical venues reported in the last little while. Additionally, in the wider world, there is a considerable second spike going on, to the point that new lockdowns and closures are being ordered all over the world.

      Even the musically deprived are accepting that some things are more important than their being able to attend a live concert. Asking if an airborne trip is necessary is a sensible step.

      Anyway, a lot of the SD whingeing about live performances were just a smokescreen for constant slagging of the favourite whipping boy of this site, the BBC!

  • Having flown a couple times to see family during the pandemic, I can attest, it’s a very stressful process that feels a bit like playing Russian roulette. Of course, wearing a good face mask and booking on an airline that blocks middle seats helps, but I don’t advise air travel to anyone who doesn’t have to get in a plane right now. People who say otherwise are just spouting Fox News falsehoods.

    • Based on the stories a friend has relayed, it would also appear that taking Amtrak (US passenger train system) in lieu of flying (as a different friend proudly told me was her solution to travel without flying) not only does NOT reduce the stress and the exposure to careless and thoughtless others, but of course also lengthens the time considerably. Their train ran out of food when it was stopped for hours in the middle of nowhere.

      • Taking the filthy (literally) Amtrak trains in the US was always stressful, unlike many European commendable rail systems. Trains have not been America’s strong suit for about 75 years.

          • It has always been a mystery to me why the US rail systems were so incredibly poor compared to those of every other civilised and industrialised country. American absorptions — suburbs, driving — have a hell of a lot to answer for.

            Mind you, the British, which were once the benchmark for wonderful rail service, have certainly not benefited from privatisation.

          • V. Lind: a complete answer to your query about American passenger rail systems goes way beyond anything I could answer in one post.

            A short thumbnail sketch: passenger rail service, historically speaking, was generally a money-losing proposition compared to freight.

            With the creation of the interstate highway system for cars and buses, and airports to support jet travel, the rail companies saw their passenger traffic plummet. For these and other reasons, they collapsed into bankruptcy.

            Amtrak was a salvaging, by Congress, of a little bit of the medium- and long-distance rail passenger service. With that legislation, inter-city passenger service was severed from commuter rail; Amtrak got inter-city travel, and commuter rail networks were created or preserved.

            Amtrak has been especially successful on the Northeast corridor, from Boston to Washington, DC. Several other routes, including from New York City north to Albany/Rensselaer, are also strong. It’s hit-or-miss for other routes.

            In general, Republicans hate Amtrak and want to get rid of it. In general, Democrats support it and want to improve it. Because of this tension, Amtrak has been continually under attack, underfunded, and hobbled practically since its inception in the early ’70s.

            Former VP and current Presidential candidate Biden is a strong supporter of Amtrak. He used to commute to Washington every day via Amtrak when he was in the Senate.

            We will see what happens when Biden is elected President and if the Democrats win control of the Senate. We could see long-overdue improvements to Amtrak in upcoming years. I hope so. I like traveling by train.

        • I prefered traveling by Amtrak, pre-COVID. Without contradicting your post, I found it preferable to flying.

          I have neither flown nor taken the train since the pandemic got underway.

      • If you are riding in the Amtrak equivalent of coach, that’s probably true. But having taken cross-country trips a few times in various compartments, you can certainly cut your direct exposure to others considerably. Whether the HVAC system on the train will do you any favors is not something I can answer from personal knowledge. And of course for a little more coin you can still arrange to have your own private rail car coupled up! https://www.amtrak.com/privately-owned-rail-cars

      • If there is time to take amtrak, there is also time to drive in your car. It’s much safer. Granted as a cellist who finds flying w my instrument to be extremely stressful, i am used to driving for as much as 20 hours one way (not in one sitting of course) for week long gigs. It may not be as palatable for a violinist, oboist, etc, but given the circumstsnces it is the more prudent way to travel.

        • It depends.

          I take Amtrak to gigs from time to time.

          It is *far* more convenient than flying. I can just carry on my oversized instruments with no hassle. There are no searches, screenings, removal of items of clothing, or any of the other performance art that pretends to be safety checking. Etc.

          Amtrak is often more convenient than driving. It’s especially rewarding when I sail along on the train past huge lines of stopped car traffic. I do so while reading a book, or listening to music while following a score, or taking a nap. When I arrive at my destination, I don’t have to find a parking space or pay to use an expensive parking garage.

          That said, driving is how I get to most of my gigs.

    • For me, the problem is that wearing a mask is well and good, but you are mostly dependent on others doing the same, and the airline enforcing their own rules. If you get seated near an anti-masker, and the flight attendant is in agreement with them (or is afraid of/ unequipped to deal with conflict), or the airline doesn’t enforce their own policies, then you’re screwed.

      People still think the mask is primarily for one’s own protection, when its main purpose is to protect other people from you.

      If you ask yourself “is the journey necessary” and the answer is yes, then you have no choice but to trust your fate to the kindness of strangers.

      • Agreed about fellow passengers. There’s also the fact that airlines still insist on serving food and drinks, which can only be consumed without a mask on. And some passengers see that as an excuse to sip their drinks for long stretches. At that point, the whole system collapses.

      • In any case, it’s already been proved in countless reports that these masks, particularly the cotton ones, are utterly useless in stopping the transmission of those naughty little microbes. Anti-maskers are kicking against the brainwashing and scaremongering, not advocating the right to infect people.

        • “In any case, it’s already been proved in countless *propaganda* that these masks, particularly the cotton ones, are utterly useless in stopping the transmission of those naughty little microbes.”

          FIFY.

  • Reading the comments it seems that many of you never tried to understand how marginal are the chances to dye WITH (not from) this virus.

  • In answer to Darrell–Although we have a vaccine roughly 60000 people do die of the flu all year in the US. This is a little different from 210000 in six months.

    Also, remember that these are the official statistics. There are a lot of people, especially in March and April in the US and even now in lesser developed countries who are dying of Covid although they never were tested for it.

    I understand the point of view of those who say that it is good that healthy people get the Covid virus for “herd immunity” and we should just focus on protecting the most vulnerable. However, if the Covid virus acts like a virus it will be able to mutate pretty quickly and the strains that one has the anti bodies for may not be the strain that one gets (or develops). The flu vaccine is changed every year based on the best guess of health officials as to which strains are most likely to be prevalent. Two years ago I got the flu although I had taken the vaccine.

    Remember that the primary screening test for HIV was the HIV antibody test. Prior to the use of AIDS “cocktails” in the mid nineties everyone who tested positive for the HIV antibody eventually got AIDS and died from it.

  • Also in reply to the “herd immunity” advocates even if most healthy people who get Covid do not die from it and many such as myself who did get it do not have any real symptoms, there are plenty people in the less vulnerable groups that DO have serious symptoms. We are now beginning to see that those who do not die from Covid can still have lingering effects.

    Futhermore, there are “healthy” people who still have died of Covid, as Norman’s list of musician Covid deaths can attest. If one of those healthy persons is someone that you knew and loved you would not want him/her to have died for the cause of helping society develop “herd immunity”.

    • Nobody’s been putting the public through all of this expensive nonsense during every cold and flu season.

      Why not? Heard immunity!

      The Chinese virus is a bad flu many more people contract and overcome.

      A prime example is CNN’s Chris Cuomo. That loony lefty is fine now and working with CNN’s crew like nothing happened!
      No problem.

  • “Is that journey really necessary?”

    Think about it. Is traveling the only way to catch coronavirus?

    There are so many ways to catch this virus…just because the musicians highlighted here both “travel” and are “sick,” does that mean one caused the other? Norman Lebrecht: please think before you write something stupid, as you so often do. For musicians out of work, they have to at least try something and take the best safety precautions. Why are you not chastising governments that aren’t doing enough to prevent that from happening? Do you think people voluntarily say no to earning money?

    • Think about it — the chances are better in a small, enclosed space with stale air circulating than, say, my chances, when I walk down half-empty streets to the bank or the shops (masked and steering clear of others).

      The statistics on this disease are bad enough. But they would have obviously been a lot worse if the measures, inadequate as they appear to have been, had NOT been put in place — unevenly and irregularly though they may have been.

  • Those countries which imposed the toughest lockdowns are now the ones registering the highest rates of infection. So what was the point of lockdowns in the first place? Covid kills the very old/already very ill (the average age of those who die from Covid in the UK is 82.4) and unlike HIV, we develop antibodies and the overwhelming majority of those who contract the virus recover. Worldwide 1.1 million have died from Covid, 37.8 million recovered. Asian flu killed 1.5 – 2 million people. Hong Kong flu killed 1 million. In neither case did we close down civil society and destroy the economic futures of young people, as we are doing now, when contracting the virus has negligible health consequences on the vast majority of young people. Health policies need to be balanced against their economic & social consequences. In the UK numerous reports by respected scientists estimate the number of deaths resulting from lockdowns to be as high as 75,000, more than have died from the virus. Meanwhile around 3.1 million children die from hunger each year.

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