What musicians are up to during The Great Pause: practicing, composing, commissioning composers, learning JavaScript

Posted on: April 2, 2020

Violinist Jennifer Koh is starting a new commissioning series, “Alone Together,” with performances posted online. Photo by Caitlin Ochs/The New York Times.


“With performances now on hold worldwide for months to come, what creative projects are classical artists working on?” reads an unsigned Wednesday (4/1) New York Times article. Violinist Jennifer Koh says she “came up with this project, ‘Alone Together’ … [to commission] freelance composers to write solo violin pieces…. I’m going to play the 16 pieces from my apartment, over Instagram…. All the money is going to these composers.” Jaap van Zweden, music director of the New York Philharmonic, is “learning the Kurtag opera ‘Fin de Partie’ that we are giving the American premiere of next season…. I’m planning this week to practice [violin] and I am starting, very carefully, to write a piece myself.” Jazz at Lincoln Center director Wynton Marsalis is “developing a digital season of performances to post online every Wednesday morning.” Pianist Daniil Trifonov “started learning JavaScript.” Conductor and composer Michael Tilson Thomas is “trying to finish a happy song … based on one my father and I used to perform as a duet when I was 5 or 6.” Also included are comments from composers John Adams, Ashley Fure, and Philip Glass; opera singers Julia Bullock and Davóne Tines; pianists Emanuel Ax, Benjamin Hochman, and Lang Lang; violist and presenter Nadia Sirota; composer and singer Meredith Monk; and performer Barbara Streisand.