by Jarrett Hoffman
“RESTARTS” OF DIFFERENT KINDS IN MUSIC & BASKETBALL
On September 9, 1972, the Soviet Union defeated the United States, 51-50, in the Olympic Men’s Basketball Final, considered one of the most contentious sporting matches in history. The final three seconds were played out three times — a succession of confusing, controversial restarts.
That got me thinking about classical music “restarts,” a term that before the coronavirus pandemic meant something different: a pause in a performance, maybe because of a cell phone going off. (A small thing to complain about these days — though can you imagine that happening in the first concert after COVID?) Classic FM gathered video of a few such instances, some painfully awkward, some passive-aggressive, some creative, some humorous.
The NBA is well into its own restart in a carefully managed “bubble” near Orlando, Florida. There’s a lot to discuss about that — health, economics, the use of testing, time away from family, the emotional importance of entertainment for the public, and the worry about distracting from the Black Lives Matter movement. Those are all serious issues with potential connections to the return of classical music concerts (though the two fields are different in many ways).
On a more light-hearted note, those games have included artificial crowd noise and virtual fans (above, from a recent playoff game) — an interesting if slightly dystopian way to imitate the normally buzzing atmosphere of an arena.
The classical music world is familiar by now with the strangeness of audience-less concerts. Has anyone tried pumping in a little bit of fake applause to fill the silence after a performance? What about playing to an audience of digital faces or cardboard cut-outs? It might be interesting to see if any historical figures appear in the crowd — a new version of the “guests at a dinner party” question. And at the very least, it could be worth a laugh.
TODAY ON THE WEB AND AIRWAVES:
Lunchtime with The Cleveland Orchestra includes works by Richard Strauss, Debussy, and Verdi — the “Libera me” from his Requiem, featuring soprano Twyla Robinson and the Cleveland Orchestra Chorus. The Met Opera brings back a 2008 performance of Berlioz’s La Damnation de Faust. See our Concert Listings for details.