Classical music, engaging large virtual audiences sheltering in place

Posted on: May 21, 2020

“Consider these startling numbers, gathered after music institutions canceled the remainder of their seasons in response to the coronavirus restrictions,” writes Barbara Jepson in Tuesday’s (5/19) Wall Street Journal (subscription required). “When the Seattle Symphony streamed a September 2019 performance of Mahler’s First on two evenings, about 132,000 listeners tuned in, compared with 4,835 individuals who had purchased tickets for one of the three original live concerts. Since the Boston Symphony Orchestra launched its ‘BSO at Home’ series, its website and social media platforms have received more than six million interactions…. Music is engaging more people right now than most other art forms.… Early in the pandemic, I kept returning to the latest album by Icelandic pianist Víkingur Ólafsson, which includes sprightly solo pieces by the 18th-century French composer Jean-Philippe Rameau.… Later, as media images of exhausted medical personnel, coronavirus sufferers on ventilators and stacked coffins awaiting burial lingered in memory, I sat glued to my laptop, watching the Met’s rebroadcast of Wagner’s ‘Ring’ cycle…. When the ‘Transformation’ theme returned, it helped me to express my often-delayed reactions to unexpected or tragic events.… Sheltering in place, we can still journey into a composer’s world, briefly leaving this one behind.”