Uncertain Times: Enter Innovation
March 9, 2020 In: Sound Bits
As the world is gripped with uncertainty and concern surrounding the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), the impact has been significant in the music world. The centrality of live performance in public spaces that is at the core of what we do, make the arts particularly vulnerable to measures designed to contain the spread of the disease. On Friday, the College Band Directors National Association (CBDNA) Western/Northwestern Division Conference, scheduled to be held March 18 – 21 at the University of Puget Sound in Tacoma, Washington, was canceled. After the Swiss Government banned gatherings of 1000 or more people, the Lusanne Chamber Orchestra closed its hall to concert attendees. The Boston Symphony Orchestra and National Symphony Orchestra recently announced the cancellation of upcoming Asia tours. In-person classes at the University of Washington and Stanford University have been canceled with all instruction being moved online. The Juilliard school, which is poised to open a new campus in Tianjin China this fall, has suspended in-person admission activities, canceled performances, and moved instruction online. The list of cancellations and closures is certain to grow in the coming days and weeks.
The alarming and uncertain circumstances provide an opportunity—necessity—for our field to innovate. This new reality requires us to reimagine how our audiences and students experience music. Biwako Hall in Shiga, Japan recently made the decision not to cancel scheduled performances of Wagner’s Götterdämmerung but rather perform the work with no audience in attendance and stream the performances on Youtube Live. After the Shanghai Symphony made the decision to cancel performances in February and March, orchestra musicians began recording and sharing masterclass and practice videos from their homes, and cultivating playlists for quarantined citizens to listen to. As we speak, collegiate ensemble directors across the nation (myself included) are being tasked with creating a plan to move all instruction online in the event of campus closures.
How has the Coronavirus (COVID-19) impacted you professionally? How are you adapting and innovating to meet this new landscape? Should our efforts be focused on addressing short-term interruptions or is this the harbinger of a completely new model? How can restrictions be shifted to opportunities?