NEW YORK – The New York Philharmonic canceled its fall season because of the coronavirus pandemic and has moved up the start of Geffen Hall’s reconstruction to take advantage of the orchestra’s absence.
Philharmonic President Deborah Borda said Wednesday that she hopes to resume performances on Jan. 6.
“It’s still a question mark because we would need to be in phase four of the governor’s reentry plan,” she said in a telephone interview.
While the Vienna Philharmonic resumed performances in Austria last weekend with just 100 people in the audience, U.S. orchestras can’t afford to perform without ticket revenue.
“People say, well, the European orchestras are doing this, how come the American orchestras aren’t? European orchestras are basically funded by their governments,” she said. “They can actually give concerts with 100 people in the hall and it’s covered. That is certainly not the case for American arts institutions.”
“It gets to a point where it’s just economically not viable,” she added. “If you were at 50%, you would hope that would ease you towards with people getting comfortable with coming back to concerts."
Changes already are being contemplated.
“How can we keep our audience safe? How do we get them into the hall and out of the hall safely? How do we test the ushers?” Borda said. “We would probably be doing things like concerts without any intermission. We won’t give out programs. They’ll be available online. We’ll ask people to wear masks.”