How American orchestras are rethinking their seasons

Posted on: December 1, 2020

“The near-total disappearance of live performance in the pandemic era has trapped us more than ever in front of screens,” writes Alex Ross in the Dec. 7 New Yorker. “With no alternative in view, performing-arts institutions have decamped to virtuality. They have done so not only to maintain contact with their audiences but, even more important, to keep their artists engaged. Many American orchestras are delivering some semblance of a fall season, even if dimensions are reduced and ambitions confined. Opera houses have been mostly inactive, in light of the nearly insuperable epidemiological challenges of assembling soloists, a chorus, and an orchestra … When, over the summer, orchestras began making known their fall plans, the operative word was ‘reimagined.’ At least twenty orchestras, from Albany to St. Louis, announced reimagined seasons…. However constricted the streaming ritual may be, it lets the curious listener range across the musical map in a way that would be impossible under ordinary circumstances.” The article reports on current virtual programming by the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, Seattle Symphony, Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Cleveland Orchestra, Dallas Symphony Orchestra, Boston Symphony Orchestra, Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, San Francisco Symphony, and New York Philharmonic.