Houston Symphony and Rice University scientists, using high-speed cameras to study airflow and ventilation when musicians play

Posted on: November 23, 2020

“The Houston Symphony has … mastered how to properly social distance for live shows,” writes Shelby Stewart in Thursday’s (11/19) Houston Chronicle (TX). “Previously the … orchestra canceled live shows and moved to live-streaming. After months of shutdowns, the company resumed weekly performances at Jones Hall back in July. With the help from researchers at Rice University, the symphony found a solution to resuming live performances. Rice researchers used high-speed cameras to measure airflow around musicians and their instruments. The findings from this study coincide with other coronavirus recommendations from the CDC and WHO—social distancing and wearing masks is effective…. Tiny ‘microparticles’ are the cause of spread from performers to a larger room. ‘Microparticles tend to rise up as soon as they come out of the performer. They eventually get comingled with the ventilation in the room,’ [said] Rice University engineering professor Ashok Veeraraghaven…. Veeraraghavan explained that good ventilation and filtration systems are critical, especially for groups playing indoors. The study established that there’s no foolproof way to prevent the spread of COVID-19, but layers of protection do make a difference.”