Classical Music

Paris Philharmonic stages classical concerts with no public, the first since lockdown lifted

The auditorium in the Philharmonie de Paris, designed by architect Jean Nouvel.
The auditorium in the Philharmonie de Paris, designed by architect Jean Nouvel. © Philharmonie de Paris – Arte Factory - Ateliers Jean Nouvel

In a bid to get the live arts scene back on its feet after a long confinement due to the coronavirus crisis, the Philharmonie de Paris auditorium is putting on two classical music concerts, which will be filmed without an audience.


Musicians are finally able to return to the stage after a break of more than two months due to the Covid-19 lockdown.

On Wednesday, lead by conductor Daniel Harding, the Orchestre de Paris (Paris Orchestra) will perform to an empty auditorium of the Philharmonie de Paris.

On the menu, Siegfried-Idyll and Parsifal, by Richard Wagner as well as Capriccio by Richard Strauss.

On Thursday evening, the French violonist Renaud Capuçon is invited to play works of Richard Strauss.

The concerts will be filmed live, and made available to the public online from 8.30pm local time in partnership with Arte Concert.

Capuçon has been particularly outspoken in his support of culture during the confinement, and posted impromptu concerts on social media each day, saying that it wasn't so much the stage that he missed, but the contact with his public.

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Publiée par Renaud Capuçon sur Lundi 4 mai 2020

He called on the French government to create a special fund to help independent musicians and ensembles who, without sponsorship and regular work struggle to survive.

He emphasised the important role music plays in society, particularly during times of crisis.

Despite lockdown conditions, Capuçon was invited to play at the Notre-Dame Cathedral for the Good Friday celebration in April, where he was required to wear a protective suit due to possible lead contamination. It was a mass without worshippers, only visible online.

Although many musicians were able to organise performances online during lockdown, this solution was not so easy for classical music formations, such as large orchestras which need a certain amount of space and equipment.

With concert venues still in lockdown in France and festivals cancelled until the end of the summer, organisers are trying to find innovative ways to keep their activities alive and prepare for the future.

Even once the lockdown measures are lifted, concert halls know that they will only be able to cater for a limited number of people at any one time, respecting social distancing and hygiene measures.

There is also still some concern over the virus spreading through the use of wind instruments and with vocalists.

Across Europe, other countries are also attempting to return to normal, albeit with small ensembles and a limited number of spectators.

Germany has begun re-opening the doors to its concert halls, while Austria will begin to do the same on 29 May, and has announced that the famous Salzbourg festival will go ahead (1-30 August), albeit in a modified form, with fewer performances in shorted formats.

Italy has cautiously chosen the 15 June for renewed cultural activities.

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