Pondering musical life before, during, and after “the pause”

Posted on: April 14, 2020

“It’s only been a month, but the stock photos of happily functional orchestras rolling by on Facebook have started to look somehow wrong,” writes Peter Dobrin in Saturday’s (4/11) Philadelphia Inquirer. “People congregating in large crowds? Sitting close together? And with no face masks…. And yet, gather we must and gather we will. Orchestral concerts in particular are a kind of mirror of humanity. Right now, that means contagion. When this bizarre intermission is over, though, orchestras are poised to be more deeply affecting than ever. Listeners are parched…. Nothing at home is a proxy for what you feel in a concert hall…. But that requires crowds.… I’ve … been particularly drawn lately to works that embody particular aspects of the American spirit…. Copland’s Symphony No. 3 with its stirring first movement is the one I want to live in…. Copland said that the work, finished in 1946, was meant ‘to reflect the euphoric spirit of the country at the time.’ We’ve lost a lot of faith in institutions in the past few years, and maybe the America of this Copland score is unduly idealistic … But that doesn’t negate idealism itself. It doesn’t mean the music can’t lead us to putting things right.”