I was at Henry Wood Hall this afternoon to interview brass players and percussionists at the LPO rehearsing and recording for the band’s Summer Sessions available on YouTube next week, many of whom hadn’t seen each other in real life for four months. Also weird to see actual people in real life doing ‘work things’. Oddly demanding to interview people at an extended distance – mean almost. Generated some good stuff (though tussled with the imagined voices of nearby critics saying that talk of tubular bell tuning was alienating for classical music newcomers – fools). Uplifting to be in the company of like-minded people – people whose livelihoods I care deeply about. Current health and safety measures are tiresome – holding live performance back right now. Adjusting to requirements about what’s ‘right’ and ‘acceptable’ in a physical space is exhausting too. But as someone who is always keen to bang the proverbial drum, it is a delight to be amongst musicians again as I was today. Generous types who just want to get back to work. Indebted to Rebecca J at Premiere for the visit. We all just need to knuckle down: this is going to take a long time.
The London Philharmonic Orchestra is responding to the COVID-19 crisis with a wide variety of free interactive digital initiatives via a new website LPOnline – Connecting through music.
Three strands feed into the website: a performance ‘space’ featuring live or ‘as live’ performances including short performances from members of the orchestra and the LPO’s Foyle Future Firsts Development Programme and the LPO Junior Artists.
The first performance event is detailed below.
Thursday 26th March, 7.30pm
Anne-Sophie Mutter (violin)
Pieter Schoeman (violin)
Richard Waters (viola)
Kristina Blaumane (cello)
Beethoven ‘Harp’ Quartet (excerpt)
(originally scheduled for performance this week in the QEH)
The LPO are also planning to release playlists of the concert repertoire they were originally planning on playing – each concert will be introduced by a member of the orchestra giving a personal take on what listeners can hear. Audiences will then be able to interact with LPO musicians and staff on the LPO’s social media channels.
On Saturday 28th March at 7.30pm Edward Gardner, the LPO’s Principal Conductor Designate, will introduce the first concert in this series.
The LPO’s Education & Community department offers a range of learning and experiential resources and activities for audiences, supporting instrumental and creative music learning, plus materials for schools, families and disability settings.
And, as you’d expect, the orchestra will also tap into the specialist knowledge and experience of its musicians, and provide behind the scenes insights of the experience of musicians responding and reacting to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Amid the grimness of the current lockdown (lightened in Lewisham, London by the blue skies and warm spring sunshine) it is good to see orchestras (those with the resources) responding so resolutely to the crisis everyone is experiencing.
One wonders whether there will at the end of it be a greater appreciation of the role that orchestras and musicians play in the cultural life of this country, not just because so much content has been made freely available so readily and so swiftly. Such efforts also serve to remind us of the hole that could be left if that community – especially the self-employed musicians that are a part of it – was no longer supported.