Social distancing won’t stop the concert from going on—at least IRL. The New York Philharmonic had already shelved its live performances through early June, but in a special dedication to healthcare workers fighting the coronavirus pandemic, its world-class musicians each recorded their parts remotely for a virtual performance.
From the hypnotic snare drum that opens Maurice Ravel’s famous Boléro to the dramatic crescendo at the end of the nearly seven-minute YouTube video, more than 80 musicians performed the classical hit in their own homes. Two members—Isaac Trapkus (bass) and Kyle Zerna (timpani / percussion)—edited the video and audio components of the orchestration posted on April 3. Gone are the formal tuxedos and evening gowns the players would typically don; instead, you’ll see musicians—who have had to take pay cuts, as it’s been reported—wearing plaid shirts, ripped shirts and rumpled t-shirts like the rest of us.
The orchestra’s performance of the Spanish-inspired composition comes nearly a century after the Philharmonic performed the concert version of Boléro in 1928. Now, other orchestras around the country and world have also turned to these virtual performances, including the Colorado Symphony’s recent performance of Beethoven’s Ode to Joy and the National Serbian National Theatre’s rendition of Bella Ciao, an Italian folk song.
Social distancing also hasn’t stopped the Philharmonic’s musicians from recording videos as part of the “We Are NY Phil @ Home” series, which is posted on YouTube. The latest episode on March 31 features cellists Sumire Kudo and Nathan Vickery performing Jean-Baptiste’s Barrière melodic adagio movement of Sonata No. 10 for two cellos. More than 150 hours of performance footage have also been uploaded to the Philharmonic’s website and past performances will be broadcasted online at 7:30pm on Thursdays.
“We believe that music connects us all,” Vickery says in one video.