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[classical music] [classical music continues] [David] Sometimes people ask the question about live music: "What's so great about live?"
You have all these great recordings, you have the internet and you have this now, whatever.
Listening to a recording is like looking at a painting on the wall.
It can be a great painting but it doesn't change, it's always exactly the same.
The live performance thing though, is so much far beyond the recording or the painting on the wall, in that it's like watching the artwork itself being re-created by the artist in front of your eyes, in real time.
Because live is always an interpretation, it's never the same twice.
[classical music] [Yaphet] I'm a huge Star Wars fan, okay?
And there used to be this movie theater on, I think, 44th street and Broadway it was called Lowes Astor Plaza.
It was a huge movie theater and myself, my family, friends, we would always go out and watch those.
And it was an event!
Everyone in New York was there there was lines around the corner, wrapped several times.
So, I'm always attracted to that kind of event where people come out and enjoy something together.
And that's what you have here.
Then, the pandemic came along and tore that down.
[Suzanne] I remember walking across the Plaza, the last night when we closed down, completely silent, all the buildings, dark.
[classical music] When we left here, we thought we'd be gone for a week, just like everybody else and eventually it became: "How do we ever get back?"
[classical music] [Henry] Chamber music in general is an extraordinary thing, as it's all about proximity.
The idea of it is about you're close to something.
We've spent almost two years being far away, in every sense.
It feels like every opportunity we have to perform is another great gift to us.
And I think it'll be a long time before we, our audiences, our artists, take for granted the great gift of performance.
It will be a long time before this feels like business as usual.
[classical music] [Wu] Alice Tully Hall has been a sacred place for chamber music.
It was a stage that had so many magical moments happen and we missed it so much.
For 18 months and not one sound on our best stage and it's a total crime.
A concert hall needs music to become a real concert hall and it will be a gift to the world that we can have music back.
[classical music] [classical music] [classical music] [classical music] [classical music] [classical music] [subway noise] [elevator sound] [door opens] [background chatting] [beep] [Sarissa] Okay, second try.
Come on coffee machine!
[frustrated reaction] [laughs] No... -Would you like a coffee?
-[woman laughs] No, I'm good.
I'm trying, guys.
[coffee machine noise] The show must go on but I think it's the show must go on but safely.
I think that there used to be a: "Go get them!
Anything can be fought through to make a show happen."
I've seen artists be very sick, be backstage, sick and then go on stage and make it happen.
I think that those days are behind us and I think that adds some layers and challenges of its own for us because every time we do something new, there's a new process and procedure for it, so, opening night and opening in Tully is new for CMS, therefore, we had to figure out a whole new way to do it.
[Sarissa] Then we do a concert, it's going to be great!
[Sarissa] I think one of the greatest things about coming back for opening night is that it will really feel in some ways like we've made it.
And that all the work and all the time that was put in, from when the pandemic started to now, feels like we went up the mountain and maybe, with opening night, we can come down the other end a little bit and feel like we have really made it.
Here we go, this is opening night, Sarissa Michaud.
Before the performance begins, please take a mo-- [gasps] Again.
Before the performance begins, please take a moment now to unwrap any cough drops, [woman] finish that text conversation and silence your mobile phone and any other devices, as this performance is being recorded for global broadcast.
[man] The musicians, your neighbors and music lovers worldwide will be very grateful.
In accordance with current CDC guidelines, [Frank] please keep your face covering over your nose and mouth at all times, including during the concert.
Thank you for your cooperation and enjoy the performance.
[indistinct voice] Cooperation sounded weird.
[Frank] We have been through at times like no other and this is really rewriting of the rules rewriting of the game itself and the rewriting of presenting concerts.
[street noise] Hello, how are you?
[Frank] So, lobby-wise, the vaccine check happens outside.
-[woman] Oh, okay.
-[Frank] So, before you enter, you're not even allowed in the building unless you have a vaccine check.
We've had pushbacks for everything, from mask usage to vaccination status.
I'm having to go through protocols and understanding the health implications of how many people are in a room, what is the air quality, what is the air distribution?
So, this is a very unique challenge for me as a marketer and an arts administrator.
I've never been through this!
I've been through many openings over my career but certainly not one coming out of a pandemic.
-[Frank] And then, sextet.
Best case scenario of opening night is we sell out, we have the biggest profile in The New York Times and that means front page coverage and we sell out the rest of the season in minutes.
Worst case scenario is that we don't sell anything and the concert gets canceled.
[classical music] [ambient noise] [indistinct chatting] [Michael] Most people on my end of the industry, let's call it the below-the-line workers, really enjoy what we do.
A lot of people stay in this industry way longer than some people would say they should but it's usually because they really like doing what they do, as well as the performers as well, too.
Coming back to Alice Tully Hall in Lincoln Center is like coming back home for me because it is your second home and we probably spend more hours here than we do at home.
[Suzanne] Oh my gosh!
What's going on here?
[Michael] Yeah, yeah.
We like that you guys are back.
[Suzanne] We're very glad to be here!
Going into this season, we are totally different people from what we were going into a season two years ago.
Good morning, you two!
-[woman] Good morning, Suzanne!
-[man] Good morning!
[Suzanne] We knew how everything worked, we've done it for 50 years, it was something that everything slotted into a routine, and we knew how it went.
We now know that we don't know.
We have no idea what can happen in the audience, we have no idea what can happen on stage, we have no idea what can happen backstage, so we've learned to do a lot more contingency planning, but also realizing that we have no idea what the contingencies are.
[Suzanne] How are you?
[Suzanne] Hello, David!
How you all doing?
[Wu] So, Suzanne, What should we do?
Should we really go, really mount this opening night?
[Suzanne] At this point I think things are opening and people are dying to come back but what happens if we get a positive test to check its not a false positive?
What is going to make everybody comfortable?
[Wu] Well, I do have back up plans so, every instrument has two people behind the back up plan, so I think we're okay.
So, can we do it?
[Suzanne] Well, all we can do is try and we will try.
[Wu] Thank you.
You're going to make me cry!
[laughs] [Suzanne] I think it's completely worth all the effort to know that the music is back.
[street noise] [Sarissa] That's a lot of microphones.
[classical music] Great!
[Sarissa] We have to come up with alternate ideas and backup plans, that we don't want to have to use but we have to plan for them and we have to have some options so that if something goes awry, we have certain policies and practices that we will rely on to get us to the point that we still are sure people are safely performing.
[classical music] [broom noise] [Sarissa] Mike said it's up there, so...
I think that we can plan and prepare as well as we can plan and prepare for but things are going to happen and I think that the best we can do is be ready for anything because we are planning for an opening night in a pandemic.
[child's voice] [Arnaud speaks French] [Arnaud] This pandemic started for me in a strange way.
I remember being on tour in late February, early March 2020 and it was very hard at that point to find hand sanitizer.
So, I remember being backstage there was a big bottle of hand sanitizer and I emptied a bottle of water and filled that bottle of water to bring home because in our family, my wife was pregnant.
She was nine months pregnant in March 2020.
I got home on March 11th, however, just a few days later I woke up not feeling so great and the test came back positive a few days later for Covid.
Luckily, I just had symptoms for 24 hours and then coughing for ten days, but I was totally fine and just a few days later, on April 2nd, we reunited going to the hospital and she gave birth to our son Nathan.
[Imitates a car horn] In a way, my wife and I are incredibly thankful for this time because, despite all the terrible things that happened, we were able to spend a lot of time at home with our baby.
I didn't have any tours, I didn't have any concerts and really, for the better part of an entire year, I didn't fly away out of New York, I was at home with him every night it actually helped us build an incredibly strong bond and it just has been a wonderful thing.
Something I don't think would have happened quite as much.
I hope it would've happened this way had I been touring like things were supposed to be.
[violin sound] Playing Bach is something I've done throughout my life, so it's not something new during the pandemic but it certainly was the only type of music where you could perform the piece as a whole because chamber music requires more than one instrument and so, being able to delve into solo music and the solo music of Bach was something that just felt right.
[cello sound] [Joseph] It was neat to be able to spend some time with myself in a way that I'm not used to doing and the way I did that was through Bach.
[laughs] Bach, of course, wrote his cello suites and bass players are known for playing his suites on the double bass and I have, in my career, never played a complete Bach cello suite.
And in the pandemic, I learned a complete Bach cello suite.
It speaks to the soul.
The harmony is just so perfect, it's just such perfection in so many different ways!
I was really thankful to have the time to connect with Bach in that way.
[David] A good colleague mentioned to me, somewhere a couple of months into the pandemic, that probably there were more people at that time playing Bach then in any time in history.
It's though he knew enough to write not for his own time and definitely, that music has helped all of us so much.
And I wonder if Bach knew that someday that might happen.
[cello sound] [child] Bye, bye!
[train noise] [Arnaud] Bach's music is very much looked towards God but it's also deeply human in its emotions and content.
If you take the Largo, for example, from the C major sonata, there is something so simple and serene about this beautiful line and with very simple accompaniment on the bottom.
So, there's interesting contrasts between the crazy life at home with the baby and then finding that peace and quiet that Bach writes in his music.
This is one of my go-to movements.
It makes me feel right at home to be able to play this music.
[violin sound] [violin continues] [violin continues] [violin continues] [violin stops] [street noise] [Schuyler] We certainly know the drill by now, though.
[Schuyler] Yeah, we've got it.
[Arnaud] Thank you.
Now put it in, touching the bottom lightly and then, do fifteen stirs.
[Arnaud counts] -[Arnaud] Okay.
-[Schuyler] Okay, great.
Take it out and throw out.
Then, I do some magic here.
[test kit lid snaps] [Arnaud] Bravo!
[classical music] [musicians chat] [classical music] [Wu] Oh god, help us all!
[Schuyler] Lightly touch the bottom and do 15 swishes.
-While touching the bottom?
-Yes, while touching the bottom.
[Wu] I remember in the earlier days of the pandemic, none of us knows what's coming in front of us.
I remember I have even jumped on stage and said: "Hey, my name is Wu Han and I have nothing to do with the virus."
And everybody thought it was funny but I think within a few weeks, the reality set in.
I returned from concert tour and suddenly, the office says: "Tomorrow we have to shut down the campus."
In my own career, I have been on stage since I was 11 years old.
I have never had a break like this.
It was kind of a surreal experience.
[piano sound] I was a very difficult teenager and thank God I had Schubert, that sort of saved me.
I discovered in music, you have a place to escape, it will never fail you it restores your spirit and expresses feelings and thoughts that you can't possibly put in words.
So, when the pandemic happened, it was sort of immediately, every morning when I practice, I pull out my Schubert music.
[piano sound] [Wu] The music was so beautiful, it really sort of healed me.
I know, sometimes, when I play some Schubert it gives me the strength to face the day.
And, you know, during the pandemic time you also had to reevaluate everything.
What are the values that are important to you?
As well as, what do you really believe in?
Which, in my case, is music.
[piano sound] [piano continues] [piano continues] [piano continues] [piano continues] [piano continues] Yeah!
So it's just... [sings] [Wu] You know, before the pandemic when I played music, I was preparing for concerts, it's part of the job.
You learn it, you have a deadline, you deliver.
It's just what I was trained for.
But during the pandemic, when we started playing music, it suddenly is not a job anymore, it's a lifeline, it's taking vitamins for your soul.
It's something that you just have to do and I never realized how important music is for me as a person, also for our community.
I played music so differently during that time and I think I'm a very different musician now.
[classical music] [Wu] Alice Tully Hall was our home for so many years and suddenly, we have not seen it.
Can I confess to you?
I did sneak in using my key card once during the pandemic time because I missed it so much.
And I went into the stage, the hall was stuffy, it was in complete darkness.
There was no life, there was no light.
It was a dead space and it was shocking.
I remember walking out of it kind of trembling and thinking: "Oh my god!
That's not the Alice Tully Hall I remember.
Full of life, full of magic and filled with beautiful music and exciting audience, fantastic friendship.
[classical music] [Henry] There is nothing more, actually more beautiful or more eerie than an empty hall.
You know, one of the things, if you haven't been inside a hall when nobody is there, when it's dark, they will leave a ghost light on the center of the stage.
It's the most dramatic thing, one light in an empty hall.
If you ever get the opportunity to spend time alone, it's the most amazing feeling to be in a space of so much energy and community and just be completely alone, when it's completely dark and completely silent, apart from that one light.
There's something about the fact that the light always stays on.
The light never goes off.
No matter what is happening, the light stays on on Lincoln Center.
And that light carried us through the pandemic.
In normal times, being in an empty auditorium is a beautiful thing.
During the pandemic, it was very challenging to see that space and not know when it was going to be possessed again.
Possessed by our audiences, by our artists.
Being inside Alice Tully Hall was always a kind of a striking feeling during the pandemic.
[classical music] [Michael] The significance of perhaps the last show that we did here.
One of the performers as they left the stage, they knew they weren't performing any further and a young woman had handed me a long-stemmed rose.
So, as we shut all the lights down, and the audio, and the audience lights, I took that Rose and stuck it in our ghost light and we didn't see it again for just about a year.
It stayed here, it was the only performer on our stage.
[cello sound] [cello continues] [cello stops] [street noise] [indistinct chatting] -[man] Thank you.
-[woman] I appreciate it.
[Suzanne] Opening night is such a huge, exciting situation for us and it will be amazing to see people flow back in to our home for a concert.
[classical music] [Yaphet] It's an exhilarating feeling to know that people are coming back to return to our seats and enjoy a performance.
This the home for chamber music society and to have everyone come back, that extended family and be there for the opening event is just incredible.
[Elizabeth] It's so great for us to be back, we are actually in our home but as a community and that's so powerful for us and for our art form, which is all about community.
So, thank you for being part of this.
It's really just so meaningful to us.
[David] The anticipation of coming into Alice Tully Hall is very high right now, just walking through the door and seeing that beautiful space it's going to be an amazing emotional moment for me, even before the music starts.
[classical music] [indistinct chatting] [House announcer] Good evening, ladies and gentlemen, may I have your attention, please.
In accordance with current CDC guidelines.
[Elizabeth] There's something different with live performance.
You feel it on your skin, you feel it throughout your body.
I'm just hoping I don't start crying on stage because we will go on to welcome the audience but I can't wait.
[woman] Here they come.
[indistinct chatting] [Arnaud] The experience of hearing chamber music in a live setting is very intimate.
We're both leading and following one another through the music and through our playing and I think that's the thrill of the concert experience, when people come and hear chamber music and something they probably missed quite a bit.
That's the one thing I was picturing during the pandemic and why I told David and Wu Han: "Please, put me in that first concert", because I know that there's just going to be incredible love in the air.
[Wu] A very dedicated, hard-working team.
Even more healthier than before the pandemic.
We also have discovered we have the most loving audience community.
This occasional opening night will be a very emotional evening for all of us.
I'm going to be so nervous!
Now I think about it, I probably had to go practice right away!
-[Sarissa] Yes, sweetheart?
Do you have a tranquilizer?
[people laugh] [Sarissa] No, I only have like, Nespresso.
[laughs] [Wu sighs] Okay.
[Sarissa] And light ten, go!
[applause] [Wu] Welcome to the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center!
No, let me rephrase.
-Welcome back... -[laughs] to the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center!
[applause] [Sarissa] Enjoy, have fun!
[applause] [Sarissa] Bravo, bravo, gentlemen!
[classical music] [indistinct chatting] [Wu] Get them!
[applause] [woman] Bravo!
[classical music] [indistinct chatting] [applause] [classical music] [indistinct chatting] [Sarissa] Beautiful job, chaps!
[man] It feels great.
[Sarissa] You guys, everybody ready?
I opened your music, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6.
[Sarissa] Go for it!
Thanks guys, have fun, enjoy!
[applause] [classical music] ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ [music continues] ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ [music continues] ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ [music continues] ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ [music stops] [applause] [applause continues] [classical music] [music fades] Planning a tour for a few musicians is always a tricky business.
Planning a tour for twenty musicians, for the winter months, brings a whole host of challenges.
Doing that in the middle of a pandemic is insane.