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Live vs. Virtual (Some thoughts from director Bonnie Ward Simon on a recent WNYC podcast)

Updated: Oct 2, 2020

The pandemic broke out here in New York City in March. I went to Massachusetts for a long weekend and never left. That weekend, New York shut down. Everyone who could, left the city to work remotely. Week by week my opera tickets, concert tickets, and theater tickets were all cancelled. My musician friends had no work because there were no audiences; all the dancers were relegated to socially distanced practice studios. At first everything stopped and then, when it became obvious that Covid-19 was not just going to disappear, life went online.

Pretty soon I became used to “virtual” life.

Perhaps it was only when I listened to this podcast, that I realized just how much I missed live performances. Live performances have guided my musical life, from my childhood home where my parents played string quartets to my life producing live concerts at the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC. In fact, much of my life has been devoted to live music. Something magical happens when the lights go down, the conductor walks out, and the music begins to transport you to a different place.

Carnegie Hall

But now what? Is the virtual as good as the real thing? This podcast reminded me not only of what we have to look forward to when this pandemic is finally under control, but also of the fact that the Stories in Music series were originally live concerts. During those years, I sat in the audience for every performance, watching parents and children, and seeing what worked and what didn't. When it came to recording the albums, I think that we did pretty well capturing the best parts of those concerts, but there is nothing like hearing them live in a concert hall. If an orchestra near you is playing one of Maestro Classics’ Stories in Music works someday, by all means try to go. I think you will know why I am encouraging you to do so when you listen to this podcast. 

Click the big blue "Listen" button below to listen to this 7 minute podcast from WNYC's Fishko Files.

-Bonnie Ward Simon

Executive Producer and Creative Director, Maestro Classics

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