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COVID-era innovations the classical music world should keep

Dec 16, 2020

By Jeremy Eichler and Zoë Madonna, The Boston Globe 

It will be a happy day when the concert experience is no longer boxed in by livestreams and Zoom grids. And organizations should have no problem filling seats after the long dark of 2020 and early 2021. But for some listeners, the pandemic has made the experience of live performance more accessible than ever.

Listeners like Libby McLaughlin of North Carolina; she's been a regular at the Charlotte Symphony for more than 30 years, and now sits on the board of trustees. But she has a lung condition that forces her to avoid crowds during flu season. McLaughlin estimates she can attend "two to four" of the orchestra's 12 classical series concerts in a typical year. But this year, she's been able to see everything the orchestra offers, including a summer al fresco chamber series filmed in a musician's backyard.

McLaughlin is as eager as anyone to return to the hall. "Live performances are the lifeblood of the musician," she said over the phone.

But she's also hoping the symphony finds a way to continue its online offerings. "I do believe that people would be willing to pay if they can't go to the performance itself, but want to hear the music."

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