We’ve been writing a lot about live venues in the context of the contemporary music scene, but classical music certainly isn’t immune from the impact of Covid-19.
The Guardian has a feature on the challenges facing the classical scene as it tries to bring back concerts post-pandemic. The headline suggests an existential threat: ‘We could go to the wall in 12 weeks’ – are we just going to let classical music die? but the piece itself also suggests this could be a moment for reinvention. “In many ways all this is a purification, a chance to start again,” said John Gilhooly, director of Wigmore Hall in London.
While the article points out that public subsidies covers only 20% of classical venues’ income in the UK (compared to 80% in Germany), it is also important to stress that it does have a certain level of financial cushioning that other genres – such as rock, pop, hip-hop and electronic – do not. Kathryn McDowell, MD of the London Symphony Orchestra, suggests that one option is to play shorter performances (of an hour) but to do two in an evening to allow for social distancing as well as cleaning of the venue between performances.
Meanwhile for classical musicians – given how many ways digital income has to be split – streaming income is described as a “bad joke” and will not help offset the massive losses from live.
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