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[Sarissa] I think the best we can do is be ready for anything because we're planning for an opening night in a pandemic.
[Wu] Welcome back to the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center!
[classical music] [music fades] [classical music] [ambient noise] [door opens] [Wu] Opening night was so emotional.
I walked on that stage, I was terrified!
I felt like I was completely out of practice!
I've been on stage since I was 11 years old and the last 20 months was the first break I had in my whole life.
You really kind of feel out of practice to be in front of a live audience and have to make a speech, which I used to do all the time but, that night, I was shaking from fear.
I remember backstage, I was pacing back and forth trying to get myself relaxed and it was scary!
It's amazing to have such a great audience!
[cheering] [Wu] Coming back on stage and gathering all of our audience and play music, it was a historic moment.
Opening night is just like this incredible explosion of fireworks and then, all the stars are dropping on us and let's get back to work.
That's the greatest sensation, we're back to work!
[piano sound] [Wu screams] [piano sound] [door opens] [people laugh] [Elizabeth] Lights go down, lights come up, they start to play and people will be like: "Wow!
Were did they come from?"
I just got goosebumps!
[people laugh] [Elizabeth] Opening night happened.
I remember waking up the next morning and it was almost like: "Oh my gosh!
There's no time to sit down, no time to relax and we're on to the next thing.
We're not only now dealing with planning for tomorrow and for the next year but everything is just more compiled and busy!
Everyone is talking about how busy they are.
I think that's something we're experiencing now, going from concert to concert at what feels like warp speed.
[Kari] The world hit a very fast and hard stop.
Like with a speeding train, if you stop it very quickly, everything within the train jumbles.
Then, you have to put it all back together and that takes time.
This is going to be a year, a year and a half of getting things back together so, it's not an instantaneous restart.
-[Kari] Look who I found!
[Elizabeth cheers] [man] Even before we take our masks off -[Elizabeth] Yay!
-[man] Hi, Beth!
Thank you [Kari] For our winds serenade group, seeing everyone come together and exchange their stories and what has happened in their lives, as a lot of them haven't talked for years and have them all in a rehearsal was very special.
[man] Taylor, you're done, you're free!
-I can de-mask and play?
-You can de-mask and play.
[people greeting each other] [Elizabeth] What stood out to me on the first day of rehearsal was that everyone was so happy.
In addition to having a billion wind players, were now dealing with artists that have not really been able to play their instruments together for a long time.
The idea of sound being produced through air was not necessarily something that was embraced.
[musicians chat and laugh] [Anthony] As wind players, I think we grappled a lot with dealing with this particular challenge of this virus.
Because it attacks the lungs and the body and the place that we live as wind players, where we make our music.
-[musician] I'm good!
-[people cheer and laugh] -[indistinct chatting] -[clarinet sound] [Anthony] There was always this thing, in order to play one instrument well, you have to be free to use your air.
So, not only was that extremely scary because of that, especially before we knew anything about this virus but when gathering with other wind players, they had us separating from six feet, they had bags, they had masks and all these things and so, that definitely made the experience a heavy load.
So, testing really helped and making sure people were negative was really helpful, I think and still is.
[woman] He's good!
[people cheer] [man] Alright, everyone!
You're all disease-free, good job!
[people cheer] [wind instruments sound] -[music continues] -[ambient noise] [Anthony] I believe music has a special place and purpose in the world.
Music means something to humanity, right?
Music has always had the power to change thoughts, minds and hearts and all this stuff and I think that we're, in a way, healed by it.
I think the exchange, the sharing of music and art together in the same space is something to be absolutely cherished.
[laughs] [classical music] The reason why we all enjoy music at a gathering, a social gathering or a dance or the things that make us have community as human beings, is that music can make us feel more connected to one another, powerfully.
[classical music] Not only does it have the capacity to connect us here in the present, but it has the power to connect humanity throughout time.
[classical music] [musicians chat] [Anthony] I think the pandemic gave me a moment to kind of be more present, more here for what is happening, which, I think, helps you to create in a different way or in a more passionate way.
[man] Anthony, you lead the way, man!
[Anthony] So, I think it has given me like another lifeline into love of music.
Where that is, where that lies in my heart.
[indistinct chatting] [applause] [classical music] [classical music] [classical music] [applause] [Sarissa] I'll eat through this, it's the only time.
[Elizabeth] Every season has its own organic rhythm and obviously this season is not unique to that so, you get this feeling of that rhythm and you know how to pace yourself based on that.
I think one thing that's made this year different is the fact that we haven't necessarily known how to pace ourselves because there's so much more that we're doing, there's so much more that is unexpected and we're in a situation where we have even less control.
So, there's sort of this go-with-the-flow feeling, where you have to pace yourself according to every moment, every day and so, we spend all the time looking forward to the next thing.
[clapping] Whether it's something like a Halloween party or celebrating Thanksgiving together in a way.
[Sarissa] Here's a signature cocktail for both of you.
[Elizabeth] Thank you!
[Sarissa] Apple Cider Moscow Mule.
[Elizabeth] There are the regular things that keep the rhythm flowing too, we have production meetings, we have staff meetings, a staff member might be leaving and we have a goodbye party.
[man] Congratulations on your new job, -we're all excited for you!
-You'll make me cry!
[people laugh] -We'll miss you.
[Elizabeth] We also experience passage of time in that.
[David] When you're busy and having a good time, time passes quite quickly.
I think the season itself is maybe like a piece of music.
It has it's own structure, it's momentum, variations in tempo and complexity and when you get into it, I think I lose track a bit.
It has happened quite often, all of a sudden I'll look up and realize: "Oh, it's December!"
-[music fades] -[applause] [crowd] Four, three, two, one!
[crowd cheers] -[piano sound] -[ambient noise] [woman] And then it is... ten swabs each nostril.
-[man] Oh, nostril.
[tuning piano sound] [Wu] The Brandenburg Concertos has been a tradition for the Holidays celebration.
About five years ago, we decided to share this tradition with the world so, every couple of years we offer this tour and we all can celebrate together.
[violin sound] [Dmitri] I find that Bach is so rich.
Every movement is so brilliantly constructed.
At the same time, if you zoom in, you can see incredible attention to detail.
I always think of a fine Swiss watchmaker.
The watch on the outside is perfect, it works beautifully, the handles are moving but the moment you open it, you see all the little levers, all the little ticking, all the little ways that the gears are put together and that appeals to musicians very much.
So, I feel on these two levels, one, just a broad appeal of joyous music, incredible transmission of emotion and at the same time, every time that we perform, we discover something new.
[classical music] [David] Chamber music is a very social activity.
We don't have conductors and leaders and people telling us what to do, we get together, we figure out what tempi to play and how to make gradations of our sound that will fit together and blend together as we think the composer wanted.
Seventy-two, we were going to do a little less than forte that time.
[David] The Brandenburgs being an incredibly disparate collection of instrumentations and combinations, they offer challenges and opportunities for the performers that will open discussions in rehearsals.
So, those rehearsals are kind of like laboratories where there's a lot of experimenting going on, let's try this, let's try that and because this particular tour of the Brandenburg has included six cities outside of New York and three performances in New York, there was room to say: "Let's try it this way tonight and tomorrow night we'll try it another way and see which one works."
Then, we can hit C major 43.
[violin sound] Kind of friendly.
As opposed to: As opposed to that.
[David] This season is specially sweet in that a year ago, we were not here playing these concertos in 2020 because of the lockdown so, coming back to them after a year's depravation has heightened the experience of it to the point where I'd say that these concertos do feel more alive now than perhaps they ever have.
[classical music] [music fades] He's unintentionally going to be the little tour dog.
[laughs] Swirlee, swirlees!
[Tara] Thinking about touring during this time with the pandemic changing here and there, has been challenging and at times, a little bit scary but there's also this desperate need for all of us as musicians to get back out there with our colleagues and play.
-[flute sound] -[violin sound] [Tara] Music chooses you, you don't really have a choice.
We have to get back out there and we have to play.
When you do that with friends and people you love and respect artistically and musically, there's nothing finer.
It looks like a nice score, I opened it because... [Arnaud] There's almost like a party feeling when we all get back together to play this incredible music.
To me, I always describe it as eternal because there's tremendous energy and life in it but you go through also so many different emotions.
[Arnaud] It's really scary this one.
[Sasha] One, two, three.
[violin sound] [musicians chat] [Arnaud] Can we do the next one?
After this very long period where couldn't have live music, I think there's no better music to finally celebrate being all together again.
[classical music] [Joseph] The Bach Brandenburgs offer so much as far as emotional content and musically.
[classical music] It's not fuel to the soul, it's more like encouragement or like a balm to the soul.
I want my audience to be able to smile while listening but at the same time, very much so my own soul is smiling when playing a movement like this of Bach.
Even in my practice sessions I'll finish playing and I'll literally say: It's an honor to be able to do something like this.
[classical music] [woman] Alright, cool!
End of the day!
Thank you all, it sounds beautiful.
Yes, it's mine.
I had it built right before the pandemic and I was hoping to have a lot of practice before this tour and the practice never came so, now I get to go all-in and hope it works without it falling apart.
As a bass player, one of the most frequent questions I get when I travel is: "Don't you wish you played the piccolo?"
When folks see what I travel with when traveling on an airplane, particularly when putting the bass underneath the plane, I'd be lying to you [laughs] if I said I hadn't wish I had made a different choice when I was younger.
I do love my instrument, I do love the bass but my goodness, it's a pain to get around with.
[Joseph] Yeah, my saddle came off [sound of pieces falling] the last time.
That's not supposed to happen.
[laughs] I'm going to now take the sound post out.
This angle is not great.
[tool noise] So, I'm able to travel with CMS on this tour and going from city to city with the same bass... Voilá!
because I had a bass made just before the pandemic that is unique because the neck can be removed from the instrument.
Watch closely and that comes right off!
That can be removed and set alongside the instrument so, the case that the bass travels in is much smaller.
What I love about this instrument is, it's able to be taken apart but it's also an instrument of high quality.
[laughs] Honestly, the thing that worries me the most is the time.
The time, sometimes between when we land in a city and have to be at the hall for rehearsal or a performance, that time makes me nervous!
Because I don't have time to rush this process [laughs] I don't want to rush a process I'm not very familiar with.
I'm getting better at it, not to mention all the pieces I have to keep track of because if I lose something or leave something behind, it could prove quite problematic at the next city I show up.
[man] Okay, see you in Chicago!
-[classical music] -[ambient noise] [indistinct chatting] So, it's remembering all the pieces, it's make sure everything is together and making sure I can do it in enough time so I don't feel rushed, so I don't damage something.
But too that it's in a playable condition so that when I join my colleagues on stage, they aren't looking at me with sour faces.
[classical music] [Tara] Planning a tour for a few musicians is always a tricky business.
Planning a tour for twenty musicians is much harder.
Doing that planning for the winter months brings a whole host of challenges.
Doing that in the middle of a pandemic is insane.
[musicians tune instruments] Our first concert is in Chicago at the Harris Theater.
We're backstage waiting to play the concert and Dmitri comes in and he's very nervous because we're supposed to be in Reno the next day and there's a snow storm coming.
And now everybody is on their phones trying to rebook their flights because we have a concert.
Wait, so is driving completely off the table now?
-[classical music] -[applause] [Tara] Everybody figures out what to do on the next morning, we play the concert and it goes without a hitch and we're kind of excited until the next morning.
[laughs] We get up the next day to go to Reno and it turns out the snow is not going to be so bad but people are having issues on the flights they rebooked.
[Dmitri] It's nice to see you, how are you?
[woman] Nice to see you too, thanks for keeping my husband company.
[Dmitri] We're doing great!
[laughs] [woman] It's way too early to be doing what you're doing!
[Dimitri] Yes, I absolutely agree.
[laughs] [Dmitri] Two musicians got deplaned twice from their connecting flights, a mechanical failure prevented another airplane from taking off and as we were expecting the arrival of this group of musicians in Reno, we realized they're not making it until just about five minutes before the concert.
This is completely unprecedented because, as we were planning this tour, there were all these contingency plans in place, there were all these backup airline routings and possibilities explored and secured.
However, one after another, they began to fail.
[Tara] We must come up with a program that will work with the people we have there.
The audience in Reno is expecting to hear all six Brandenburg Concertos and we don't know if they'll get there on time.
[woman] They arrived seven minutes ago.
Nine minutes ago.
[Dmitri] They're still going to roll down the tarmac.
[Tara] I think it was, maybe, fifteen minutes before the concert that everybody arrived but the luggage was not there.
So, half of us were in concert dress and the other half were not, they were in hoodies and travel clothes.
This was one of those test moments of this tour where you ask yourself: "Is this worth it?
Do we need to bring live music to audiences?"
But the love and the screaming applause that the musicians received the moment they walked on stage after a grueling day, it's as if they already played all the concertos.
There was basically a standing ovation in the hall receiving the musicians on stage.
[applause] At the time we thought: "Well, this tells you that music is necessary and also will get through this.
No matter what, we'll make it happen."
[applause] And then, at 9:35PM, the luggage rolled in.
[Tara laughs] Good morning!
[Dmitri] After the performance in Reno, all the musicians regrouped and took a bus to Davis, California and played a beautiful concert there.
The next morning, a quick hop to Costa Mesa, California and played a beautiful concert there.
[applause] [Tara] Getting to California and in our two concerts there was a relief and we thought: "The worst has passed.
[ambient noise] [Arnaud] Sasha, did you bring a change of clothes?
[woman] I can't believe I'm working here, it's amazing!
[woman 2] He thinks he's a big dog.
Can I show you a video ?
[Ken] He's looking his best life to see his own Insta account?
He's cute enough.
[Ken laughs] -He's leading the pack.
-Yeah, like, this way!
[violin sound] [ambient noise] [Dmitri] When we arrived on the location in Palm Beach, at the site of the Four Arts, luckily all of us had tested once again negative and all the musicians just made beautifully in time for our dress rehearsal.
[classical music] [classical music] [classical music] [classical music] [classical music] [classical music] [classical music] [classical music] [Dmitri] Then, we took a break to prepare for the next concerto and I remember sitting on stage with Tim Eddy and we were conducting a very nerdy cello talk and then... [water pouring sound] [Dmitri] A dramatic downpour of water.
Dirty, oily, smelly water was flooding the stage from the ceiling onto the double bass and the harpsichord.
-[classical music] -[water pouring sound] [Dmitri] The sprinkler system was accidentally set off by something.
The stage was not just unusable, it was also dangerous.
[woman] We put in a fire extinguishing system in last year for the first time - since the forties.
- Well, it's working!
-[laughs] -How is it looking?
I don't dare move the harpsichord any further.
-[classical music] -[harpsichord squeaking] [Tara] Wu Han is already working with the presenter trying to figure out how we can still play our concert.
-[classical music] -[water pouring sound] [Joseph] This looks pretty good!
-You got it really fast!
-I moved it out of the way.
Yeah, thank you!
[laughs] [Joseph] it looks good.
It's how we conquer this for tonight.
Does somebody have to run to the store to get mops?
[classical music] [water pouring sound] [music fades] [water pump noise] Nathan, Nathan, fire truck!
Okay, that was unusual.
I've never seen a harpsichord do that before.
[harpsichord sound] [Dmitri] Everything felt like we were in a surreal movie and at that point I was certain that the concert just would not happen.
Would you like to see the hall with me?
[fast-paced classical music] -[Sofia on the phone] We'll get the musicians over there somehow.
[golf cart noise] [Dmitri] It was amazing how quickly the organization regrouped.
[Wu] There's a lot more rooms.
We like being together, it's warmer this way!
[laughs] [Tara] Thankfully, Wu Han is there, she talks with the presenter and she knows the complex where the concert is being held and she finds a venue.
The show, of course, always goes on but this was really an extraordinary event and everybody was in such great spirits.
We'll take care of this, you guys go get ready.
We were so happy to be together and so grateful to be able to play.
[rain sound] [man] This looks like the only one.
[Joseph] And that's like the perfect stool!
[fast-paced classical music] We'll let you know when they're ready and have us all come into the hall.
[Kenneth] There's such great effort that goes into what we do.
You get to the venue, it's kind of the message that really nothing will stop.
I remembered the come hell or higher water.
Hell was the trip from Chicago to Reno and high water was the flood at the stage and we still got through it and still performed it.
I guess that's the very nature of the show must go on.
[fast-paced classical music] [Kenneth] I had a lot of dirt on my tux shirt from getting the mud out of the instrument and kind of wet from being out in the rain.
[fast-paced classical music] In a lot of other places in the world, this would be impossible and tickets would be refunded but here, I think that's incredible, that's the miracle.
[music fades] [Tara] How... How is that even...
It's a miracle that all worked out, total miracle.
[fast-paced classical music] [Wu] It's the human spirit that I admire so, so much.
We're not going to be beaten by the virus, we're not going to be beaten by the pouring rain.
We're going to play our music and I know the musicians are just dying to jump on stage and play for you.
[applause] -So, enjoy!
[Sofia] We were able to pull it off thanks to the resilience, the good humor, the absolute dedication to music and the arts that everyone around here proved today.
[classical music] [classical music] [classical music] [classical music] [music fades] [applause] [David] The music is the thing that's always there for us as of constant and it's a refuge for our souls amidst the chaos of travel, the struggle, the pressures, the exhaustion.
When that music starts to play, all of that stuff somehow just gets erased by the music because the music is so constant, so there and it's so great.
So, I'd say that the key to surviving a big tour like the Brandenburg Concertos just did, it's to just look to the music and I'm sure all of them did that because they've come home as the happiest campers I've ever seen.
[car sound] [Arnaud] The touring period is over and we finally get to do it in our own home, in our beautiful hall, in Alice Tully Hall and for the New Yorkers, who, of all people, have had it quite tough in the middle of this pandemic so, it's a great feeling to think we can bring comfort to our hometown as well.
It's been a whole two years for quite a few people here in New York that haven't heard this music live so, one more thing to look forward to, this year.
[bassoon sound] [Joseph] Alice Tully is one of my favorite halls to play in, where you could actually hear a pin drop on that stage but in many ways, I almost see those buildings acting as sacred spaces, no different from a temple.
-My bad, sorry.
[music stops] [music restarts] [Joseph] Being able to re-enter these spaces, post-lockdown, allows us now to actually come back together and worship, if you will, as a family.
[cheerful classical music] [violin sound] [scrubbing] [Suzanne] I don't listen to the Brandenburgs all year long because I want to look forward to hearing them four times.
I go to the dress rehearsal and then, all three performances so, it's just great to have that once a year feeling.
People arrive all dressed up, there's a buzz, there's an excitement.
It's the signal that the Holidays are here.
[cheerful classical music] [Arnaud] Here we go, one final time.
[Sacha] Thank you so much.
Looking as great as ever, Sacha.
Thank you, Arnaud.
[Dmitri] There's a great sense of bringing the torch back and we deliver the product of our love, the product of our care back to New York audience.
[cheerful classical music] [laughs] [Elizabeth] It's amazing to have musicians come home after a long tour.
They've been through many experiences together, which brought them even closer together.
They're now back in Alice Tully Hall so, not only the experience of the acoustic but the hometown crowd, that feeling of knowing who the audience is and feeling that support and sense of community which makes the experience of hearing these six Brandenburg Concerti that much more powerful.
[Wu] Why am I still nervous making speeches?
If you weren't nervous, you wouldn't-- -[Wu] Hi, sweetie!
[kiss] Don't be nervous!
-I'm always nervous.
-All the time!
[applause] [Wu] I remember vividly in the last 16 years, every year meeting the audience and seeing even some of our audience, their family growth.
To see people enjoy music and make it become a family tradition, to have this kind of community gathering makes life worth living.
And have a great Holiday, thank you so much for coming!
[applause] [Sasha] I'm not sure about this three-button thing.
-[Sarissa] No, it looks nice.
-[Sacha] It's alright?
[Sarissa] You look fantastic, don't worry about it.
Let's send the artists, Inbal, you want to go first?
Here we go on the site, here we go!
[Sarissa claps] Have fun everyone!
[applause] [classical music] [classical music] [classical music] [classical music] [classical music] [classical music] [classical music] [classical music] [music fades] [Michael] A couple of days ago, when certain shows on Broadway were cancelling because they didn't have enough people, it became very déjà vu, you're wondering: "Jeez, are we going to make it?
Or is this going to be what happened before?"
That was a great read, phenomenal.
[Tara] We have this new variant, Omicron variant and we don't know what our lives will be like in the next few months.
[Sarissa] Your music is almost going to make it through.
-[Joseph] It's almost going... -[Sarissa] Almost!
-[Sarissa] Come on, music!
-[Joseph laughs] [Joseph] It gives it character!
[man] The memory, right?
We should do basic contingency planning through mid February.
What if we move concerts to the Rose Studio?
What if we have other kinds of things in the pipeline?
I never want to talk about testing and how will we do that moving forward, but... Our luck may have run out.
Our luck was insane.
We had four tests or three tests and not a single positive.
No champagne, no meet and greet tonight, feel free to leave at your own discretion.
Yesterday I had an itch and I started to look up the Omicron symptoms -and that's one of them.
I was super tired, yesterday.
[Arnaud laughs] This is all happening again but I tested negative, thank God!
[classical music] I'm preparing for concerts next month, just in case they actually happen.
[laughs] Although they may not.
[violin sound] I have to get in shape.
[violin sound] [flute sound] We know what's going on out there.
Are we the last men standing now?
After Broadway, the Rockets and all that.
[classical music] And it's this combination of walking on stage and feeling this immense pleasure and joy, and fear that we may be stepping backwards again and worried for our colleagues all over New York who are playing.
[applause] What we know now at CMS is that we can do it.
-[applause] [David] And we also know that whatever happens that people will come back to hear music.
[classical music] [Arnaud] Music is not just an embellishment of life, it's not something that makes your life a little better.
Music is essential to life.
Music is something that humans turn to in every moment.
In a moment of despair, in a moment of joy, music is there before you even can think of it.
[classical music] [Tara] And I'm hopeful for the future, in spite of what's happening now with this variant.
[violin sound] [Tara] Because I know it may take some time but where there's a will, there's a way and we certainly have the will.
[classical music] [David] We look forward to whatever is coming down the pike for us.
Of course, with caution but also with a renewed sense of confidence in our art form, a different perspective on what it means to us and our lives.
And with optimism, hope and determination to make music happen no matter what.
[classical music] [classical music] [classical music] [classical music] [classical music] [classical music] [classical music] [classical music] [classical music] [music fades] [applause] [cheers and applause] [Wu cheers] What are we going to do tomorrow?
[Joseph laughs] That's right!
-[applause continues] -[violin sound] [applause fades] [violin sound] [violin sound] [violin sound] [violin sound] [violin sound] [violin sound] [violin sound fades] ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪