With stages shuttered, orchestras move to street corner performances

Posted at 12:08 PM, Nov 30, 2020

So much has been taken from us this year, but for Jason Snider, all too familiar feelings of his first time performing at Symphony Hall in Boston suddenly came back to him.

"It felt like I was driving in for the audition the day that I won this job," Snider said, standing on a busy street corning outside the historic performance hall.

Since March, this stage and others like it across the country have sat empty. It's still unsafe for audiences to return inside. So, Snider and three of his colleagues have been taking their performance outside.

"I hope we catch people’s attention, remind them that we’re here," Snider added.

As some of the best French horn players in the country, a city street corner is a long way from the prestigious stages they are used to, but it is a stage, nonetheless. Over the years, these four have toured the world together. On this particular day, though, they were on a trolley, traveling the city.

They stopped outside hospitals filled with COVID-19 patients, offering a crescendo of chords to remind people what's been missing since March.

"It’s a reminder of that visceral experience you get when you’re listening to music; it’s a physical sensation," said Leslie Wu Foley, the director of education for the Boston Symphony.

It's a song being written by musicians from coast to coast as other musicians and orchestras have taken up similar ideas, bringing music to outdoor spaces where smaller crowds can gather safely to listen.

"There’s nothing like that in-person experience of changing the air around you," Foley added.

Managing the pressure of this pandemic has been hard, it's been lonely, and it's been quiet. But finding a common chord might be the best way for us to find some common ground.