In era of coronavirus, performances offer more intimate musical experiences

Posted on: July 21, 2020

“Social distancing demands not only that listeners be kept far apart but that musicians be, as well,” writes Howard Reich in Sunday’s (7/19) Chicago Tribune. “Gone, for now, are the tonal splendor of the full Chicago Symphony Orchestra and Chorus; the spectacle of Lyric Opera’s opulent productions of Verdi and Puccini…. Performances on that scale will be sorely missed…. But in their stead comes something else: a soloist or string quartet or jazz trio … a realm in which fortissimos can be less harsh, pianissimos can whisper still more softly, and everyone in the house can lean forward a bit to better catch sonic detail and artistic intent. In classical music, this amounts to a wide return to the salon…. The rumble of Beethoven’s piano sonatas rattles through your bones in a small room with a degree of force that cannot be conjured in a large hall…. An outdoor concert by members of the Chicago Symphony and Lyric Opera Orchestras early this month … felt more like a musicale from John Philip Sousa’s era than a concert from august musicians of our own time…. Our new reality is necessitating smaller dimensions and scaled-down performances…. Understatement, restraint and proximity may be valued anew.”