The show must go online: How venues are keeping the music alive

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The musical losses in Ireland are already substantial. The National Concert Hall is dark. Irish National Opera’s production of Carmen has been cancelled, as has the Feis Ceoil, due to start on Monday 23rd. And the Irish Chamber Orchestra’s 50th birthday celebrations have been disrupted.

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The fate of later events has to be in doubt. If current restrictions are extended into April, as seems likely, then we won’t be seeing the Music Current festival of new music (due to start on Tuesday April 14th), Music for Galway’s new Cellissimo festival (from Saturday April 25th), Drogheda Arts Festival (from Tuesday April 28th), or the Sligo International Chamber Music Festival (from Friday May 1st). The Cork International Choral Festival (from Wednesday April 29th) has already cancelled.

And if the less-optimistic projections about the duration of the pandemic turn out to be correct, the precautions against the spread of the virus could still be in place after the summer or even beyond. A lot of people of all generations, whether working or not, are going to be spending enforced time at home.

Major international performing institutions have already taken up the immediate challenge by freeing up access to their online output.

Both halls of the Philharmonie in Berlin, home of the Berlin Philharmonic, have had to close until April 19th. But the orchestra is setting out to increase its online reach. The home page of digitalconcerthall.com, its platform for streamed concerts, sets the tone. “The Digital Concert Hall, now free for everyone,” it declares. “The Philharmonie is now closed – so we will come to you!” There’s a voucher code offering free access to all of the site’s concerts and films until March 31st.

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