The meaning of classical music from a distance in absence of live concerts

Posted on: May 22, 2020

“Classical musicians … have been trying to find a second life online during the pandemic shutdown,” writes Alex Ross on Monday (5/18) at the New Yorker. “Any discussion of this activity, encouraging as it is, must take into account that it unfolds against a backdrop of misery. The livelihood of thousands of musicians has been shattered overnight…. With that in mind, I’ve been glued to my computer in recent weeks, consuming live-streamed events…. Their mere existence is bracing, and at times they achieve startling power. One such moment arrived about forty minutes into the Metropolitan Opera’s ‘At-Home Gala’ [when] Yannick Nézet-Séguin, the Met’s music director … led a prerecorded performance of the Intermezzo from ‘Cavalleria Rusticana’ [and was] joined by members of the Met chorus for ‘Va, pensiero,’ the great anthem from ‘Nabucco’ in which exiled Israelites salute ‘my homeland, so lovely and so lost.’ … The primary challenge of online music-making will be to persuade audiences to pay for it…. The Oslo Philharmonic’s [livestreamed] Wagner ‘Siegfried Idyll,’ in its original version for thirteen players … had me in tears by the end…. It seemed to emanate from some other world; that it came from the present felt like a flicker of hope.”