Artists as athletes: the physical challenges of being a classical musician

Posted on: September 16, 2021

“When you go to a concert of classical music performed at the elite level and find yourself transported by the experience, it’s easy to think of these elegantly clad performers as divine muses of the arts,” writes Jim Farber in Tuesday’s (9/14) San Francisco Classical Voice. “Rarely do audiences consider the years and years of training, endless practicing, rehearsing, and performing that led up to the concert they just attended, let alone the rehearsals and performances that will begin again in a matter of hours. Musicians, like professional athletes, have a single tool that allows them to perform—their body…. But unlike in the world of professional sports, you can’t call ‘time out’ in the middle of a symphony…. As a practicing general surgeon who is also a classically trained oboist and the principal conductor of the Los Angeles Doctors’ Symphony Orchestra, there are few individuals better qualified to comment on the physical issues confronting musicians than Dr. Ivan Shulman…. ‘If you don’t think what [musicians] do is intense and physically taxing, try playing a complete Mahler symphony or a Wagner opera!’, he says.” The article includes interviews with Los Angeles Philharmonic violist Ingrid Hutman and Metropolitan Opera Orchestra Concertmaster David Chan.