Principal flute: I gave birth during the Met’s last show

Principal flute: I gave birth during the Met’s last show


norman lebrecht

October 21, 2020

Chelsea Knox, principal flute, has been talking to Classic FM about the exodus of Met musicians from New York, a trend first reported last weekend by Here’s Chelsea:

‘I gave birth during the final performance at The Met on 11 March, 2020. I had only just received tenure for my job in the spring of 2019 and for me the Met Orchestra is my dream job. I love playing opera and I am in constant awe of the talent of my colleagues. It felt like I had the career security to finally start a family and plan a future in New York City.

‘My husband, who is also a musician, and I were getting ready to purchase our first home, but were suddenly faced with leaving our apartment and moving in with my parents to sort out our plan going forward as a family. We’re now renting a small place outside of the city and while we are lucky to have such a supportive family it is still difficult to suddenly be in this position.

‘Emotionally the loss of identity has been as challenging as the loss of income. I expected new motherhood to be life altering, but being isolated with a baby and with no performances scheduled for the next year it has been hard to find balance. I’m not sure what my future as a musician looks like right now.’



  • Michael says:

    So sorry for Ms. Knox and the other musicians at Met and other US ensembles.

  • Old Man in the Midwest says:

    She’s not the Lone Ranger. It is indeed unfortunate that the very best job in the US classical music industry is under duress. However there are many industries that are experiencing ongoing contraction (airlines, travel and tourism, restaurants, commercial real estate). Those workers are having to deal with similar issues.

    • Pierre says:

      Nobody is saying she is…

    • Tiredofitall says:

      It is possible to express empathy for one individual without diminishing the misfortunes of everyone. This is a classical music blog and her story illustrates one musician’s struggle during this time with career and life. By extrapolation, we can feel the pain of an entire industry. Best wishes to Ms. Knox and everyone facing the loss of jobs.

    • Sue Sonata Form says:

      It’s the price society is paying because the Lockdown Left thinks it can beat Covid-19 with the world in quarantine. Time will show that the virus WILL remain and the entertainment, hospitality and travel industries will not. Be careful what you wish for.

      • Larry D says:

        Yeah, Sue, it’s all politics, reality and common sense play no part? Meanwhile, the “Lockdown Left” in China has eradicated the virus to the point where things there are approaching normalcy. Meanwhile, the “It’s my constitutional right to not wear a mask and keep going to bars” Right continues the spread in your hero Trump’s country.

  • anon says:

    The classical musician market in the US is a harsh, unforgiving caste system.

    It’s great if you are the best and you hit the music lottery and you earn a starting salary of $160K and a great pension plan and you get lifetime tenure, while the second best gets to run around like a chicken with its head cut off to do free-lance gigs and weddings.

    But the caste system works by exclusion not by sharing the
    wealth, when the economy melts down, there is no safety net, the castes collapse and there is no difference between the best and the 1000th best, everyone is unemployed and moved back home with mom and dad.

    In Europe, there is an equitably split system: everyone less than the top caste in the US and every earns about the same, but there are a lot more opportunities for everyone, so in boom times as in bust times, no one is making a fortune but no one is in the soup line either.

  • Morgan says:

    “. . . the loss of identity has been as challenging as the loss of income” I think this is a succinct summary of the misery these musicians have encountered.

  • PHF says:

    If it is hard for her, imagine the rest…

  • papageno says:

    She’s talking like she permanently lost her job. The Met will hire them all back when it reopens again and reopen it will next year.

  • debuschubertussy says:

    Meanwhile, classical musicians in other cities are able to move forward with abbreviated/virtual seasons. Why can’t the Met and the NY Phil follow suit?

  • Sharon says:

    1. She should continue practicing and continue listening to classical music (although I have no doubt that she is already). Perhaps study and practice pieces and types of music she has not tried before or wants to improve on

    2. She should get on a couple of mothers’ blogs

    3. Although this is more difficult during Covid she
    should try to get involved in community organizations that might be meeting on a limited basis, mothers’ groups, church, volunteering in a school or youth program etc.

    4. Although she may feel isolated now she should remember that 10 years from now she will probably be grateful that she had the opportunity to have the extra time with the baby.