Going Under COVID: How the Shows Still Go On

By Fleisher Collection RSS Mon, May 4, 2020

by Dr. Gary Galván

In early March 2020, orchestras around the world began contacting the Fleisher Collection to let us know they were canceling concerts for which they had borrowed music. The socio-cultural impact of COVID-19 was upon us, effectively ending concerts for the remainder of 2020. Liveforlivemusic.com and Classic FM are actively tracking cancellations of concerts for 2020 as performances into 2021 fall into question. So, how does the show go on?

In addition to tracking concert cancellations and offering a state-by-state resource guide for affected music professionals, Billboard endeavors to answer that question by providing links to live streams and virtual concerts during the coronavirus crisis. As performers and performance organizations are stepping up to keep the show going, Music Special Collections at the Free Library is bringing you a perspective on the Philadelphia musical community commitment.

Fleisher Discoveries podcast

We’ll start right here with our own Fleisher Discoveries podcast. Started by composer and former Fleisher curator Kile Smith 18 years ago as a monthly radio program on WRTI, Discoveries set out to "uncover the unknown, rediscover the little-known, and take a fresh look at some of the remarkable treasures housed in the Edwin A. Fleisher Collection of Orchestral Music in the Free Library of Philadelphia." Fleisher Discoveries moved from local airwaves to the internet in December 2018, to continue that mission and bring recordings of orchestral works outside the standard repertoire that are housed in the Fleisher Collection to listeners around the world. All shows since the beginning of the Fleisher Discoveries podcast are available on Soundcloud and Spotify.

Philadelphia Orchestra's previously unreleased concert audio 

The Kimmel Center, home to the Philadelphia Orchestra.

When the Philadelphia Orchestra cancelled all scheduled rehearsals, events, and performances through May 10, 2020, they scheduled Friday and Saturday online broadcasts of previously unreleased audio of Philadelphia Orchestra concerts and uploaded a large selection of featured performances that can be browsed and searched by composer, title, and conductor. All content is available online via Listen On Demand.

Astral Artists' #quarantunes and #WorldPremiereWednesday

Philadelphia-based nonprofit Astral Artists provides an important stepping-stone for emerging classical talent moving from the conservatory into professional life through mentoring and advocacy.  An excellent example is the 2020 Musical Fund Society Career Advancement winner and Astral artist, mezzo-soprano Crystal E. Williams. During these days of social distancing, Astral maintains regular social media updates and has developed two innovative social media initiatives. First, Astral Artists musicians regularly take over their Instagram with #quarantunes and a look at their artists beyond the stage. Second, Astral opens its archives every week and features a #WorldPremiereWednesday post with a world premiere performance supported by Astral's Micro-Commissioning program.

Dolce Suono Ensemble's concert video series

Founded in 2005 by flutist and Artistic Director Mimi Stillman, the Dolce Suono Ensemble has presented 54 world premieres and been widely lauded for their engaging programming, including projects such as A Place and a Name: Remembering the Holocaust, Women Pioneers of American Music, and Música en tus Manos (Music in Your Hands). With the onset of social distancing, the Dolce Suono Ensemble has kept the music playing with a bi-weekly concert video series focused on members of the DSE family and available on the ensemble’s YouTube channel.

Network for New Music's performance archive

Named the city’s "premier new music organization" by the Philadelphia Inquirer, Network for New Music commissions new works by established and emerging composers and performs those compositions with a flexible team of 20 professional Philadelphia musicians. The Network has postponed the remainder of their season in response to social distancing efforts, including three newly commissioned works by Sebastian Currier, Michael Shingo-Crawford, and Stephen Jaffe. During this time of quarantine, the Network is sharing selected performances from their archives on their homepage and on Facebook.

Vox Amadeus' classical performances with period instruments

Philadelphia-based Vox Amadeus, established in 1987, specializes in the performance of classical works composed between 1500 and 1820 on period instruments. Their YouTube channel offers listeners an opportunity to hear how the original composers and their audiences might have heard these works in a medium they never imagined.

Curtis Institute's curated performances with a weekly theme

Curtis Institute, Philadelphia elite music conservatory

The Curtis Institute stands out as one of the finest and most exclusive music conservatories in the world. They suspended classes and concerts prior to Pennsylvania Governor Wolf’s March 21, 2020 declaration to close all non-life-sustaining businesses. Curtis staff quickly switched to distance education and reminds everyone "Curtis is Here" with their YouTube channel. The channel features curated performance videos focused on a weekly theme weekdays at noon EDT, replacing the usual Friday 8:00 p.m. EDT live recitals with full-length concerts from the Student Recital Series, Ensemble 20/21 season, and more.  

Dr. Andrea Clearfield and Adam Vidikis's Zoom salon, Zalon

For 33 years, Philadelphia composer Andrea Clearfield has operated a music salon out of her lofty Center City Sydenham Street living room where more than 17,000 fans have mingled with over 7000 performers. To replace her living-room soirees, Dr. Clearfield has teamed up with Temple University educator and composer Adam Vidikis to create Zalon! – a salon via Zoom. Zalon events are scheduled for May 17 and May 31 at 7:30 p.m. by invitation. Visit her website for more information. 

The show must go on!

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