Pianist Stephen Hough: it’s time to rethink traditional concert formats

Posted on: December 2, 2020

“When my book Rough Ideas was published last year I, like everyone else on the planet, had no idea how much and how quickly life in 2020 would change with Covid-19,” writes pianist Stephen Hough in Sunday’s (11/29) Guardian (U.K.). “There would be additional chapters if it were to be written today.… One issue I wrote about that seems to have struck a chord with readers was the idea of removing the interval and having shorter concerts, lasting around 60-80 minutes, perhaps at different starting times, and even repeating them on the same night. Since the pandemic struck this shrunken format has quickly become the norm, a neat solution to comply with new health and safety requirements … and I’ve loved it…. At some point in the early 20th century we settled into a pattern: concerts should start in the early evening and last roughly two hours including a 15 to 20-minute interval.… This tradition served us well in many ways, especially when most people’s working hours were the same and music was less easily accessible in recorded formats…. There will always be a place for the traditional-length concert but it’s time to embrace different options, too.”