With in-person concerts halted through Sept., Chicago Symphony musicians contemplate present and future

Posted on: May 15, 2020

“What happens when one of the world’s great orchestras stops rehearsing and performing for six months? Or more?” writes Howard Reich in Wednesday’s (5/13) Chicago Tribune. “What hap-pens to the musicians’ sonic brilliance …their unanimity of thought and phrase and tone? … The Chicago Symphony Orchestra musicians, like their counterparts … around the world, ponder these questions.… CSO music director Riccardo Muti [says] a long quarantine … ‘will affect not the quality of the orchestra but the morale of the musicians.’ … CSO principal percussion Cynthia Yeh says, ‘What has been shocking to me is how hard it is to play even a duo when you’re not in the same room.’ … The musicians’ isolation reflects everyone else’s.… ‘I am playing alone every day at home, practicing with my mute,’ so as not to disturb neighbors,’ says principal trumpet Esteban Batallan…. Music isn’t quite the same without listeners…. On May 1 the Berlin Philharmonic streamed a concert played live in its concert hall, with 15 musicians at most onstage … [Muti says] this template showed a way [forward] for orchestral musicians… ‘If it’s September (when) we can get together and start with small groups, we can find easily the repertoire.’ ”