Following 556 days of pandemic-inflicted cancellations and unconventional concerts, the New York Philharmonic opened its new season Friday, a "homecoming" for musicians limited to live streams, one-off and outdoor shows for more than a year.
After enduring months of crisis, the Phil, one of America's oldest musical institutions, re-opened its subscription season with a program featuring Beethoven's “Piano Concerto No. 4,” Anna Clyne's "Within Her Arms," Aaron Copland's "Quiet City" and George Walker's "Antifonys."
The pandemic forced the famed symphony orchestra to cancel its 2020-21 season, resulting in more than $21 million in lost ticket revenues.
Hundreds of people queued outside Alice Tully Hall in Manhattan's Upper Westside in evening wear, showing mandatory proof of vaccination in order to gain entry for the night of orchestral music.
Catherine Colson arrived with friends ahead of what she anticipated would be "a memorable night of phenomenal music."
"It was a really long year. I feel rejuvenated," she told AFP. "It's like a rebirth in a way."
Adam Baltin said he wanted to attend opening night to "celebrate the city and the arts. It's been so long."
On top of the challenges presented by COVID, the Phil is homeless: the orchestra's longtime base, David Geffen Hall at Lincoln Center, is in the middle of a major $550-million renovation.
Most of the 2021-22 season will be played at two other venues at the Lincoln Center arts complex on Manhattan's Upper West Side.
Despite everything, Chris Martin, the orchestra's principal trumpet player, said the start of a fresh season "feels like coming home."
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