Reconsidering orchestras and international touring amid potential pandemic interruptions

Posted on: February 23, 2022

Vasily Petrenko leads the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra of London and cellist Kian Soltani in January 2022 at Carnegie Hall. It was the first overseas orchestra to perform at Carnegie since the initial pandemic lockdown. Credit: Richard Termine

“For much of the pandemic, the Vienna Philharmonic … was one of the few orchestras to succeed in outmaneuvering the coronavirus,” writes Javier C. Hernández in Tuesday’s (2/22) New York Times. “The ensemble pushed forward with tours of Japan, South Korea, Egypt and Italy…. Then … the Omicron variant surged. By late January, several dozen players had tested positive for the virus, forcing the cancellation of a three-city tour…. Earlier this month, the Russian conductor Valery Gergiev, who was set to tour with the ensemble, also tested positive…. The experience … underscores the challenges facing even the most nimble, well-funded ensembles as they seek a return to the international concert circuit…. Some ensembles, including the New York Philharmonic and the Philadelphia Orchestra, are pushing forward with engagements in Europe in the coming months…. The Minnesota Orchestra … said it had no plans for trips abroad in the near future…. Simon Woods, the president and chief executive of the League of American Orchestras, said he believed the classical touring industry was resilient and would endure. But he added that some ensembles were re-evaluating the costs … especially given that ‘the Covid situation could upend their plans at any time.’ ”