Suggestions for orchestral works suitable for performing with social distancing

Posted on: June 22, 2020

“As the coronavirus pandemic endures … if concerts are to go forward with social distancing restrictions in place, they will have to include not just fewer listeners, but also fewer players,” writes Zachary Woolfe in Tuesday’s (6/16) New York Times. “What will those fewer players play? Chamber standbys, surely: the original 13-person ‘Appalachian Spring’; string-ensemble works like Barber’s Adagio and Tchaikovsky’s Serenade; Bach’s ‘Brandenburg’ Concertos. But what about more varied fare? … In a live-streamed panel discussion on Thursday … several innovative chamber orchestras will share repertory ideas.” The online event was hosted by American Composers Orchestra, Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, and River Oaks Chamber Orchestra. The Times’s music critics propose works for an orchestra no bigger than 40 musicians “with six feet or so between string players—and rather more for winds and brasses.” Suggestions include Pierre Boulez’s Éclat, Ethel Smyth’s Serenade in D, Julius Eastman’s The Holy Presence of Joan of Arc, Mozart’s Notturno for Four Orchestras, Heinrich Ignaz Franz Biber’s Battalia, Alvin Singleton’s Again, Olga Neuwirth’s Lost Highway Suite, Schoenberg’s Chamber Symphony No. 1, Kurt Weill’s Concerto for Violin and Wind Orchestra, Strauss’s Metamorphosen, Anthony Braxton’s Composition No. 147, Wagner’s Siegfried Idyll, and Haydn’s Symphony No. 45 (“Farewell”).