400 days following the inception of government-imposed COVID-19 pandemic-related lockdowns, the New York Philharmonic played their first public performance for a socially-distanced audience.
“On behalf of all us on stage, welcome back.” “We have been dreaming of this moment for a long time” the conductor told the crowd Wednesday night (April 14th) prior to the Philharmonic performance at the Shed in Brookfield Place, some 2 miles from its under-renovation Geffen Hall home at Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts.
The hour-long performance consisted of a reduced collection of 23 strings — all masked — and no brass or woodwinds for Caroline Shaw’s “Entr’acte,” Jean Silbelius’ “Rakastava (The Lover)” and Richard Strauss’ “Metamorphosen.” The cavernous Shed, which opened in April 2019, contained a masked audience of 150 spaced out in groups of one and two folding chairs in a venue that usually seats 1,200. Electronic tickets with timed entry allowed admittance, temperatures were taken upon entry, and each person had to show proof of a negative COVID-19 test or proof of having completed vaccination at least 14 days earlier.
Following the show concertmaster Frank Huang said “I’m kind of on a euphoric high right now, because I missed it more than I realized.”