Choir and orchestra fill historic concert hall for socially-distanced Beethoven’s Ninth

16 June 2020, 09:31

Live music returns to Geneva... with distancing
Live music returns to Geneva... with distancing. Picture: Grand Théâtre de Genève/Facebook

By Maddy Shaw Roberts

This is what a Beethoven concert looks like in June 2020…

A Swiss choir and orchestra have found a way to perform live music again, and it sounds absolutely wonderful.

In a performance (watch a clip below) soon to be broadcast on Swiss television, the Orchestre de la Suisse Romande (OSR) and Grand Théâtre de Genève Choir perform Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony in Geneva’s great Victoria Hall, with social distancing measures in place.

With singers and players arranged on the balcony overlooking the stage and auditorium, classical music is now an immersive experience.

“The musicians can play in large numbers while respecting social distancing, and the absence of the public allows them to respect the gauge of 300 people,” the Grand Théâtre says in a comment (translated from French) under the video, originally posted on Facebook.

It comes as events for up to 300 people are now allowed to take place across Switzerland.

Read more: When will theatres and music venues reopen in the UK? >

Socially-distanced Beethoven from Geneva

The theatre adds: “The public will be able to watch the concert thanks to a lot of camera and microphones [which ensure] extraordinary visual and sound production.”

Filmed in 360 degrees, the monumental musical installation will be broadcast on Swiss TV, with a date soon to be announced on OSR’s social media.

As many European countries ease out of lockdown, concert venues are slowly finding ways to reopen: over the weekend, the Royal Opera House put on a live stream of chamber performances from British soprano Louise Alder and Canadian baritone, Gerald Finley. And last Monday, music returned to the Vienna Musikverein, with a limited live audience.

But this offering from Geneva is one of the first large-scale concerts we’ve seen, in terms of performer numbers.

Musicians perform at a safe distance from each other
Musicians perform at a safe distance from each other. Picture: Grand Théâtre de Genève/Facebook

Live music is not as it was before. And it might be a while yet until everything returns to normal. But this is a huge step in regenerating live performance...