British Columbia

Vancouver Symphony Orchestra offers 'solace' of music online as B.C. practises social distancing

When B.C.'s ban on gatherings of more than 250 people put an end to the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra's BeethovenFest, the musicians were determined that the show would go on.

Sunday afternoon live stream attracted more than 26,000 viewers

Members of the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra's string section warm up for a live stream performance on Sunday afternoon. (Doug Kerr/CBC)

When B.C.'s ban on gatherings of more than 250 people put an end to the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra's BeethovenFest, the musicians were determined that the show would go on.

Even if the audience couldn't see the finale in person as planned Sunday at the Orpheum Theatre, it would still happen online.

"I think it's really important that we keep on making music," the VSO's music director Otto Tausk told CBC.

"Music can, especially at times when it's difficult, be of great help. I think music can comfort us, music can give us joy, especially when it's a time like this."

On Sunday afternoon, more than 26,000 tuned in to watch a live stream of the VSO's performance of Beethoven's Symphony No. 6 "Pastorale," performed in front of an empty theatre.

Neil Middleton, the VSO's vice-president of marketing and sales, said the virtual concert felt like the right thing to do at a time when the world is struggling to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus.

"Music is a solace. It's a place of repose. It's a place to reflect and consider, and also a place to come together," he said.

"This is an expression of gratitude."

But the cancellation of almost all of the orchestra's upcoming performances will also mean tough times ahead for the VSO, and they're asking supporters to consider making a donation if they have the means.

If you have a COVID-19-related story we should pursue that affects British Columbians, please email us at impact@cbc.ca.  

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