V.com weekend vote: What was the last live-music performance you heard or participated in before the pandemic?

May 15, 2020, 7:10 PM · Eight weeks into the pandemic and I’m already having trouble remembering the last live concert I attended or performed in. In fact, I had to get out my calendar to jog my memory. It was a performance with the Pasadena Symphony, with conductor David Lockington, and you can see, from the picture below, that we were all very happy after the concert.

Pasadena Symphony musicians with David Lockington and Nick Kendall.
Pasadena Symphony Orchestra musicians with David Lockington and Nick Kendall.

We played Debussy's La Mer, and violinist Nick Kendall joined us for a wonderful performance of a "Porgy and Bess: Fantasy for Violin," a virtuosic arrangement I'd never heard before, by Alexander Courage.

That seems like another lifetime.

I realized it was good for me to go through this exercise of remembering, because it may be awhile before I hear or participate in another live concert. Personally, I didn’t realize what was coming at the time of the Pasadena concert, so it was just another concert to me. It’s only been in retrospect that I understand its significance. There’s a part of me that is glad I didn’t know that the performing world was going to come to a screeching, indefinite halt. I suspect it would have been too emotional for me.

I’m eager to hear about the last live-music performance you attended or participated in. Please pick the answer below that most closely corresponds to your choice, then provide specifics in the comments section. Let us know if you knew this would be the last event for a while, or if you didn’t see it coming.


May 16, 2020 at 12:49 AM · Looking at my calendar I thought it was the winter recital for my ongoing lessons and clicked recital, but I am wrong, looking agian, it was a performance at the retirement home by the Klezmer band I'm in. Oops.

May 16, 2020 at 12:54 AM · I, too, had to look at my calendar! It was a performance of Mendelssohn's "Elijah" as part of the Bailey Choral Festival in Colorado. I'm happy to say that I cherished every aspect of the performance, but I certainly had no idea that it would be my last for the immediate future.

May 16, 2020 at 01:08 AM · It was a performance of Symphony #4 by Mendelssohn in early March.

May 16, 2020 at 01:33 AM · I don't even want to describe it because it was far from my favorite SAS performance (it was a special performance, not a classical concert). But I've given three porch concerts since the shutdown for my neighbors.

May 16, 2020 at 01:34 AM · My last public performance activity before the pandemic went from a far away abstraction to becoming a deadly reality was a jam session at the Wintergrass Music Festival in Bellevue, Washington on February 22. The hotel was filled with hundreds of people. Performances were held in packed rooms. Jam sessions were also in rooms and halls, and the sales exhibits were crowded. A week later, on February 29, the first Covid-19 death was reported in Kirkland, Washington, right next to Bellevue.

May 16, 2020 at 01:43 AM · I played in Camellia Symphony's February 22 concert, where the program consisted of Clara Schumann's Piano Concerto and Bruckner's 7th Symphony.

Camellia Symphony's next concert was scheduled March 15, and the last time I played music in a group was the orchestra's March 9 rehearsal. Sacramento County banned large gatherings on March 12 (shelter in place was ordered several days after that), and the concert was canceled less than 72 hours before it was supposed to take place. The cancellation was announced to musicians the afternoon of the 12th, but was not announced publicly until the 13th. On the night of the 12th, I had at two friends ask me if Camellia Symphony was planning to defy the ban or if ticket sales were so slow that we would actually be in compliance with the order.

May 16, 2020 at 02:59 AM · My wife and I were in New York City, and heard Cosi Fan Tutti at the Metropolitan Opera on the 7th of March. We knew there were concerns, but we stayed at a hotel, went to bars and restaurants, and walked around mid-town. I shopped for a new violin in several small shops. On the way back to LaGuardia on Sunday, we knew something was very wrong. The cab driver said it was his quickest trip on the cross-Bronx ever, and the airport was nearly empty. We got home, had “bad colds” that week, and a strange cough that seemed to come out of the blue. We’re both quite fine now, but wonder if we has a brush with COVID-19. The Met was fantastic!

May 16, 2020 at 05:41 AM · I played the Planets by Holst with the Massapequa Philharmonic at Molloy College in Rockville Centre NY. It was a great concert with photos and Narrative done by an Astro Physicist From the Museum of Natural History. It was so much fun and seems like it was a lifetime ago .... ???? I had no idea what was coming.

May 16, 2020 at 12:40 PM · Ray Chen at Colburn mid-February - had I known, then :-(

May 16, 2020 at 01:38 PM · It was a Cello & Piano recital featuring Ani Kalayjian on the Cello (Don't remember the Pianist) preceded by her young Cello Students. After that everything was cancelled.

May 16, 2020 at 02:18 PM · I was scheduled to leave on a trip to Vienna (for Beethoven's birthday events) on March 13th. Found out on the 10th it wouldn't be happening, and gave a recital program on the 12th consisting of Beethoven Op. 96, Emilie Mayer Notturno, and Schubert Rondo Brillant. So much Vienna, and yet...

May 16, 2020 at 02:22 PM · It was Valentine's weekend. Ray Chen took the stage with the great Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, playing Sibelius Violin Concerto. About a third of the way thru the 1st movement, Ray clipped his E string and it exploded off the Strad. Without dropping a single note, he handed the Strad to the concertmaster, who swapped with him. Then the concertmaster handed the Strad to the Assistant Concermater, and they swapped . Ray then tossed an E string (no kidding, he had one in his pocket) to the Assistant Concertmaster who proceeded to restring the Strad right there in his seat. At the end of the 1st movement, Ray was handed back his beloved Strad. The entire hall went wild!

May 16, 2020 at 03:26 PM · I played as a member of Latina Orchestra. Program: Beethoven's Romanza and Haydn violin concerto in G

May 16, 2020 at 03:31 PM · My last public performance was that of our orchestra in mid-February with an opera excerpts program. Then the last concert I attended was in late February and was a gorgeous small concert - chamber music with dance accompaniment by Echo Chamber in Toronto. Again, no idea then that it would be the last. However in mid-March, I had my last in person lesson with my teacher - asked for a two hour slot , that one I knew would be the last for a while as by early March, it was clear that COVID-19 had arrived in Canada. I so miss playing with others! Zoom/skype does not satisfy.

Perhaps there will be some outdoor concerts or small ensembles in our near future...

May 16, 2020 at 03:37 PM · "Other" -- in mid-March. I didn't play on the porch; but I did resume practicing and playing in the garage back then, because it was warm enough once again. I keep up this evening routine about 8 months each year -- till winter temperatures force me back indoors. I don't remember exactly what I played the first night back in the garage; but it was all from memory -- a blend of Mozart, Beethoven, Rossini, Mazas, Kreutzer.

March 17 was the day things started shutting down here -- in response to CDC recommendations. This hasn't affected my playing schedule -- and has barely affected the rest of my life. The garage provides total isolation. So -- except for neighbors across the street and next door, who already know me -- I am the mystery player, because they can't see me. But they can still hang out on their porches or on the street to listen if they want to -- they've told me they do so.

No chamber music get-togethers planned for a while, so nothing lost. The last live-music performance I heard was long before the pandemic. Most performances are in the evening, and my schedule won't allow for them.

May 16, 2020 at 03:56 PM · Although it was only 2 1/2 months ago, it seems like a life time ago. When my sister asked me the same question, I could not remember what the last performance was. She had to remind me that I had sung in a choir concert at the end of February. I had to wrack my brain to remember. When I finally did, I remembered why I couldn't remember. It was an "unmemorable" experience. I certainly had no idea that it would be my last live performance for a while. I had been learning music to sing in a concert that my brother would be conducting in April and was very much looking forward to that. And to the following week when I would be hearing my sister sing in the opera "Harriet Tubman". Tonight would have been the 35th Anniversary concert of the choir that I have bee performing with for the past few years. So much to look forward to. Now they are just simply annotations on my calendar of events that never occurred.

I prefer now to pretend that I didn't remember my last concert. To quote my mother-in-law: "I choose to remember things the way I want to remember them." So, I am going to remember my last concert as the "Elijah" performance in Colorado. I had the privilege of sitting in the audience with my father and brother while listening to my sister's beautiful singing. If this is the last live concert that I ever get to hear, it was a perfect one to be the finale. It WAS memorable.

May 16, 2020 at 04:29 PM · The last live musical event I attended was a small violin masterclass with Kerson Leong, held at the local university in the early afternoon of March 12. I live on the east coast of Canada, and at that time no positive cases had been reported in our province. As I had been led to expect, I found out that Kerson Leong is an excellent teacher. I also noticed that he unobtrusively positioned himself three meters away from the students and audience, even though the concept of social distancing had not yet been introduced.

At the time, I didn't know what a lockdown was, but I knew the virus would soon be in our province, and that this would be the last event I attended. I was too scared to attend the concert that evening, which turned out to be the final concert of the season. A lockdown was declared the next day.

May 16, 2020 at 04:58 PM · My last live music performance was a senior centre gig on Feb 28. Restrictions did not go into effect until about March 10 in my region.

May 16, 2020 at 06:20 PM · Eileen Ivers at the Sierra Nevada Big Room, Chico, CA.

May 16, 2020 at 06:23 PM · I saw Pinchas Zukerman play the bruch with the Atlanta symphony right before everything shut down. The sold out concert turned into a half audience and then concerts were canceled essentially the next day.

May 16, 2020 at 07:54 PM · I went with some Turkish friends to hear Mine Dogantan-Dack perform the Emperor with a local Amateur Orchestra in February.

May 16, 2020 at 10:06 PM · A concert by Scottish husband and wife duo Emily Smith and Jamie McClennan at the Mitchell in Glasgow early in February, my last concert at the Celtic Connections Festival this winter. It was a great gig, Emily and Jamie are friends as well as excellent musicians, so it was a fine evening and is a fine memory of music and community.

May 17, 2020 at 12:43 AM · The last playing events for me were an orchestra concert March 6, and a lecture/demonstration March 12 for a college physics class about intonation. The first public performance after partial re-opening was May 9, three jobs with the local Mariachi. I expect to have a lot more work this summer with them than my classical colleagues have because all of our work is private parties, frequently outside, which is inherently safer.

May 17, 2020 at 02:30 AM · Garrick Ohlsson piano recital in early February.

I was expecting a year of concerts to follow ...

C’est la vie.

May 17, 2020 at 02:42 AM · The last performance we heard live was the Knoxville Opera's "Romeo and Juliet" on Valentines' Day. We thoroughly enjoyed it and had no idea it would be the last live performance we would hear. In fact, one month later, we went to the local movie theatre to see the "Live from the Met" performance of "Der Fliegende Holländer" and didn't find out until we arrived at the theatre that the Met had cancelled the performance and so it couldn't be streamed.

May 17, 2020 at 04:26 AM · Bill Sloan

February 20, Disney Hall, Gustavo Dudamel and the LA Philharmonic playing Ives and Dvorak. Wonderful program not knowing it would be our last for some indefinite time. Presently: no Hollywood Bowl first time

In 100 years, Disney Hall closed, no performances in Los Angeles at all.

May 17, 2020 at 06:54 AM · I attended a performance of Salonen’s Violin Concerto, with Leila Josefowicz as soloist, at San Francisco Symphony. An exciting performance.

May 17, 2020 at 11:06 AM · The last performance I went to was my college Symphony Orchestra performance the Tuesday before (the first week of) Spring Break. I was playing first stand second chair in the first violins; we had a student soloist who was really really good (she was only 16!) playing Shostakovich piano concerto 2 and we played Ravel's Mother Goose Suite. I had no clue then that I would never be going back after Spring Break. I also didn't know then but that turned out to be my very last concert with a conductor I had known well and performed with since my freshman year of high school (6 years ago). Like you said, it's probably better I didn't know at the time because it would have been very emotional.

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