Minnesota Orchestra partners with U of Minnesota to study aerosols and musical instruments

Posted on: October 21, 2020

“University of Minnesota mechanical engineers are working with the Minnesota Orchestra to study the strength and concentration of aerosols that emerge from brass and woodwind instruments, trying to assess how risky they might be in the spread of the coronavirus that causes COVID-19,” write Jenna Ross and Jeremy Olson in Monday’s (10/18) Star Tribune (Minneapolis). “The first goal is to identify the risks in Orchestra Hall of virus-carrying particles flying between and among players and to figure out how to capture or disperse those particles—paving the way for safe, in-person concerts again. But the results could reverberate beyond the performing arts and play to a national audience of scientists and policymakers who are only beginning to understand the role of aerosols in fueling the pandemic…. The U [of Michigan] team’s first results, published in the Journal of Aerosol Science, found that certain instruments generated more aerosols than others.… The next stage of their research involved airflow measurements in Orchestra Hall and strategies to contain aerosols…. Trumpeter Charles Lazarus said he was happy to play for the U researchers and feels fortunate to be part of an orchestra relying on science to take steps back to the stage.”