Opinion: As concerts return, we should learn from the past year, not “get back to normal”

Posted on: May 27, 2021

“On … 16 March 2020, I was in … the Royal Festival Hall for a mammoth Beethoven birthday concert,” writes Gillian Moore, director of music and performing arts at London’s Southbank Centre, in Tuesday’s (5/25) Guardian (U.K.). “Covid-19 was stalking the world…. The next day, the UK government announced that people should ‘avoid pubs, clubs, theatres and other social venues.’ … Public concerts were no longer viable.… One year ago this week, George Floyd was killed in Minneapolis, and the world changed again…. Classical music planning cycles are usually fixed years in advance, but … here was a unique opportunity to respond … right at that moment. One third of the works presented in the autumn digital season were by composers of colour…. On Friday, … the Royal Festival Hall will finally open to the public with a concert by Chineke! Orchestra and soloist Sheku Kanneh-Mason…. At its center will be a powerful work commissioned from poet Yomi Sode and composer James B. Wilson…. As the concerts over the next few weeks unfold … let’s not call this ‘getting back to normal.’ We must bring with us into the new world all the thinking we’ve developed over the past year… We must not unlearn what we’ve learned.”