Opinion: Free classical-music streams offer profound experiences during coronavirus pandemic

Posted on: March 16, 2020

The Philadelphia Orchestra and Music Director Yannick Nézet-Séguin prepare for their live-streamed, audience-less concert at the Kimmel Center on March 12, 2020. Photo by Tom Gralish

“Watching the Berlin Philharmonic’s streamed performance of Luciano Berio’s ‘Sinfonia’ … was one of the most disorienting yet profound views of a performance I’ve ever had,” writes Anthony Tommasini in Friday’s (3/13) New York Times. “On Thursday … those who tuned in to watch streams of operas, orchestral concerts and chamber music programs, from Berlin to Philadelphia, … were the only audience…. It felt like music had entered a new realm, with a new bond between artists and audiences—temporary, to be sure, but with implications for the future beyond the pandemic…. I started with the Berlin State Opera’s performance of Bizet’s ‘Carmen.’ … The superb pianist Igor Levit [streamed a performance of] Beethoven’s ‘Waldstein’ Sonata … from his apartment in Berlin…. At the Miller Theater, the pianist Simone Dinnerstein presented a Bach program with players from the Baroklyn ensemble. Bach is always emotional. But at this particularly unsettled moment, hearing the cantata ‘Ich habe genug’—about someone who, having experienced her savior’s embrace, no longer feels part of this troubled world—sung by the mezzo-soprano Kady Evanyshyn was overwhelming…. The Philadelphia Orchestra’s performance [of Beethoven’s ‘Pastoral’ Symphony] was infused with fresh, almost rowdy, truly rustic energy, palpable even over my computer screen.”