Seattle Symphony returns to Benaroya Hall for first in-person concert since March 2020

Posted on: May 25, 2021

“On Thursday evening, about 150 mask-wearing, temperature-scanned, invited attendees—socially distanced around the 2,500-seat [Benaroya] hall—heard the [Seattle Symphony] and conductor/pianist Inon Barnatan perform the first live concert with an audience in the hall since a ‘Celebrate Asia’ program on March 8, 2020,” writes Melinda Bargreen in Saturday’s (5/22) Seattle Times. “The experience was surreal in many respects: vast, empty spaces between the masked concertgoers, and around 30 masked musicians on the stage…. The music was a revelation: two great piano concertos by Mozart and Beethoven, and a stellar piano soloist who also proved a nimble conductor from the keyboard. The hall’s acoustics were unusually reverberant with so few of the sound-absorbing patrons in the hall…. It was clear from the level of rapt attention that other music lovers were deeply affected…. [Seattle Symphony] publicist Dinah Lu says the SSO had been planning ‘very conservatively’ for next season (2021-22), with audience sizes around 400 people. Newly updated guidelines, however, indicate a possible audience size of ‘about 1,000,’ Lu noted…. In addition to allowing a limited, in-person audience, the symphony will continue to livestream its weekly concerts with shortened programs…. The season ends in July.”