Honk to applaud: Montreal Symphony performs in a parking lot

Posted on: August 11, 2020

The Montreal Symphony Orchestra performs in a parking lot at Montreal-Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport on August 5, 2020. Photo by Eric Thomas

“Music lovers streamed into an airport parking lot, socially distancing in cars to listen to the Montreal Symphony Orchestra play Beethoven, Ravel and Mozart in between flights taking off,” writes Eric Thomas in Friday’s (8/7) Agence France-Presse. “ ‘I normally spend a lot of time either in front of an orchestra or in front of an airport. So we combined the two,’ [guest] conductor Jacques Lacombe [said]…. The Montreal Symphony Orchestra is used to playing outdoors—in parks, outside retirement homes, even at the city’s Olympic stadium every summer. But at the end of an airport runway …. ‘is a first in my career,’ said the conductor…. More than 520 carefully spaced cars … packed into a massive parking lot at the Trudeau International Airport … in front of a small stage where around fifty musicians performed, each socially distanced from the other…. In lieu of applause the audience honked car horns and flashed headlights…. Lacombe found Beethoven’s 5th ‘metaphorical’ for the COVID-19 era, particularly in Montreal, the Canadian city hardest hit by infections. ‘It is a symphony where man fights against his destiny, it begins in turmoil and oppression and ends with a kind of liberation, jubilation and victory,’ he explained.”