Music for our self-isolating times

A friend remarked yesterday that artists are really stepping up during this pandemic, aware that the arts bring people together during times of crisis.  We’ve all seen the videos of Italians singing from their balconies in solidarity and in appreciation to health care workers.  The web is full of playlists and suggestions for listening, and you may be listening to more music than you usually do as you shelter in place or self-isolate at home. Many arts organizations are providing suggestions for listening or viewing, even as they are losing substantial income by having to close down.  

Beginning March 12, the Philadelphia Orchestra had planned to celebrate Beethoven’s 250th birthday by performing all 9 symphonies paired with newly commissioned works over a period of 3 weeks.  Those concerts have all been cancelled due to COVID-19.  But on the night of March 12, in a gift to the public, conductor Yannick Nézet-Séguin and the orchestra performed Beethoven’s Symphonies No. 5 and 6 to an empty Verizon Hall.  It was streamed live and you can hear it here.

A week later, Terry Gross interviewed Yannick on “Fresh Air.”  He spoke about what it was like playing to an empty hall and the need to feel part of a community when we share great music together. When questioned about the remote audience texting during the performance, Yannick commented he thought that was great.  You are creating community by listening together and wanting to share.

Ironically, a couple of weeks earlier, a friend of mine in Florida and another in Maryland and I were all online watching/hearing a live concert on which someone we knew was performing. We texted occasionally during the performance, and it really felt as though we were all in the same place because we were sharing the same experience.

During this time of forced isolation, perhaps we can share concerts or performances together, even if we are not in the same physical space.  It does create community and that is something we desperately need at this time.  I’ll continue with a few more suggestions for listening/viewing.

The Philadelphia Chamber Music Society is curating a selection of videos and live-streaming opportunities. A live-stream event on Thursday the 26th at 7:30 p.m. will be Jonathan Biss performing the last three Beethoven Piano Sonatas, which he had been scheduled to play on the Chamber Music Series.

Carnegie Hall offers a variety of listening opportunities on their website.  Scroll down the website past the announcement of next season, and you can watch and listen to recent broadcasts, curated playlists, the role of artists during times of injustice, and more.

The Lincoln Center At Home site has a Pop-Up classroom, Concerts for Kids, Concerts, Research at the New York Public Library, Playlists, a Puppetry workshop, Kids Storytime, and a great deal more.

The Kennedy Center features a Digital Stage, with free videos of performances on demand (music, theatre, and dance) and adding new releases daily. They also have The Classroom (at Home) with activities for kids. (same link)

The Chicago Symphony Orchestra playlist on You Tube has a lot of short excerpts, but scroll down and you will find a complete Beethoven 9th Symphony with conductor Ricardo Muti and the Berlioz Symphonie Fantastique with conductor Stéphane Denève.

The Metropolitan Opera is offering a nightly opera stream, actually daily because each encore presentation from their Live in HD series is made available from 7:30 p.m. EDT to 6:30 p.m. EDT the following day.  They have 14 years of HD performances, so that’s a lot of opera.
The Metropolitan Opera Nightly Opera Stream

The Boston Symphony offers several different kinds of presentations:
BSO at Home: Listening – daily audio offerings
BSO at Home: Behind the Scenes – videos from previous productions
BSO at Home: The Musicians – self-produced video from players and conductors as they stay at home
BSO Encores, Nightly @8 – past orchestra performances nightly
BSO Home School– Not yet up but coming soon.

The Seattle Symphony is offering Free Video Broadcasts and Livestreams.

Playbill lists 15 Broadway Plays and Musicals You Can Watch From Home

And from CNN:
All the virtual concerts, plays, museums and other culture you can enjoy from home.
There is something here for everyone, from viewing objects or paintings in museums and galleries, to listening to classical music, opera, ballets.  And if you want to “experience” the outdoors, you can view a zoo or an aquarium.  Lots of great viewing here.

Yo-Yo Ma, one of the great musical communicators of our time, initiated #songsofcomfort – inviting everyone to share music that has personal meaning.  In an interview with the PBS Newshour, he stressed that the idea is not for the practitioners to do the music, but for everyone to be involved.
An online platform for live streaming of classical concerts, operas, masterclasses from around the world.  Available free or in a subscription version giving greater access.

And just sent by a friend this morning:
“Virtual ‘Love Sweet Love’ from Quarantined Berklee College of Music Students”

This was a short list but expanded as I was writing.  If you’d like to share a suggestion for a great concert or video, please send it to me and I will continue to add to the list.  And as you watch/listen, you may want to think about making a contribution to your favorite music organization.  Some of them may not be able to survive this crisis.

Stay healthy and safe everyone!