It's impossible to run an orchestra when the government is requiring everyone to stay six feet away from each other, but the Seattle Symphony is going to give it a shot.
In response to new social-distancing mandates, the symphony plans to rebroadcast earlier performances of beloved symphonies and to livestream new performances through March.
This weekend on YouTube and Facebook, they're showing Mahler’s Symphony No. 1, conducted by music director Thomas Dausgaard. The performance will air tonight at 7:30 p.m. PDT and on Saturday at 8 p.m. PDT. The concert was originally performed in Seattle last September.
Livestreaming new shows will be trickier. In order to create a unified sound, musicians in an orchestra have to huddle together so they hear one another and respond to physical cues. But symphony staff and musicians are brainstorming ways around that.
Symphony spokesperson Shiva Shafii said they're thinking about livestreaming new solo performances over the next couple of weeks. Those solos might happen onstage at Benaroya Hall, but the symphony is also thinking about musicians performing from their own homes.
"The push to do these performances is all stemming from the musicians," Shafii said. "They’re motivated to do whatever they can to provide music for the community."
Whatever they decide, you can keep up with new announcements and new performances here.
As Seattle's entire arts community faces weekly losses on the order of $2 million to $3 million, the symphony is also announcing that a board member, Stephen Whyte, has pledged to match donations dollar-for-dollar for as long as the hall is closed.
As the coronavirus continues to spread across the country, other large concert halls are going to have to keep adapting to necessary and noble restrictions from public-health officials. The Seattle Symphony is the first in the country to have to deal with all of this, and it'll be instructive to others going forward. CC: The entire state of New York. Welcome to the world of performance production under quarantine.