How orchestras are adapting: with chamber concerts, some outdoors, and health protocols

Posted on: August 6, 2020

Members of the Minnesota Orchestra perform a chamber concert at the Target Atrium at Orchestra Hall in Minneapolis, October 2019. Photo by Caroline Yang

“When music lovers envision a night at the symphony, they picture a stage filled with 80 to 100 players arrayed in close proximity. Obviously that hasn’t been possible in the U.S. for a while due to the coronavirus,” writes Barbara Jepson in Tuesday’s (8/4) Wall Street Journal (subscription required). “But … in September the Tulsa Symphony will mount an all-Beethoven program with 52 musicians for up to 1,700 listeners in an 8,000-seat, minor-league ballpark…. The Fort Worth Symphony will present reduced-orchestra performances for about 500 individuals in its 2,000-seat hall…. Classical Movements, a concert tour organizer, has sponsored seven [outdoor] events in Alexandria, Va., since June with no reported spread of the virus…. The Minnesota Orchestra is … doing this on a significant scale, with 24 outdoor chamber concerts throughout August…. [If] recommended protocols, like regular temperature checks for players, are in place, a mix of chamber music and repertoire for reduced orchestra seems uniquely adaptable to the moment…. However, even the best precautions can’t prevent the unexpected. The Houston Symphony had to postpone its plans to resume live concerts with audiences because of the spike in coronavirus cases in Texas, but it’s ready to go once the situation improves.”