Live Concerts Amidst COVID-19: Philharmonia Returns to Jordan Hall

Many students returned to Boston this semester to study in person and had the opportunity to perform in live NEC concerts while maintaining social distancing guidelines. This fall semester, NEC Philharmonia presented four live streamed concerts from Jordan Hall, with two conducted by NEC's own Hugh Wolff, and two by guest conductors Lina González-Granados and Christopher Wilkins.

This semester's repertoire has featured works from a diverse selection of living composers including Michael Abels, Gabriela Lena Frank, Chen Yi, and Jessie Montgomery, alongside works by Antonín Dvořák, Dmitri Shostakovich, Julius Eastman, Aaron Copland, Béla Bartók, George Walker, Aldemaro Romero, Clarice Assad, and Benjamin Britten.

Musicians from the orchestra share reflections below on their performances and what it's been like to play in an ensemble during the global pandemic:

NEC Philharmonia perform in Jordan Hall

Although the physical seats were empty, at-home viewers have surpassed typical in-person attendance—over 2,000 listeners have tuned in to hear the Philharmonia via live stream this semester, through NEC's website and Youtube channel.

Lina González-Granados conducts Phil with mask

NEC alumna Lina González-Granados '14 MM returned to campus to conduct the October 17 concert.

Hugh Wolff wears masks while conducting Philharmonia

Hugh Wolff, NEC's Stanford and Norma Jean Calderwood Director of Orchestras, led the first and third concerts of this semester's unusual season.

Musicians in NEC Phil perform with COVID-19 restrictions

Students and faculty working on campus follow careful COVID safety protocols, including masks, individual stands, distancing, airflow turnaround between uses, regular testing, and more.

"It felt much safer [to perform] since we had our own stand." —Minji Lee '21

Concertmaster Isabelle Durrenberger leads the section

Concertmaster Isabelle Ai Durrenberger '21 MM led the ensemble in works by Michael Abels, Chen Yi, and Antonin Dvořák.

Principal Violist Andrew Hughes leads the section.

"I really enjoyed playing the Leyendas piece by Gabriela Lena Frank. Each movement provided so many nuances and illustrated really beautiful, intricate ideas." —Andrew Hughes '21

Hugh Wolff in rehearsal.

"During this time, I think music can offer not only an escape, but new ways of perception. I found that this is especially healthy for us to broaden our perspectives." —Andrew Hughes '21

It’s been uplifting to see, still, the same great pursuit of a deep, profound art form from the student body. The passion for music is not lost!
Andrew Hughes '21