In the last 48 hours, we have received notice that our planned performance at next week’s Beethovenfest Bonn will not be taking place, that our long-awaited US tour with Mitsuko Uchida is no longer possible, and that our week-long residency at Heidelberger Frühling with Pekka Kuusisto must, in its current form, be cancelled. Yet the spread of the coronavirus pandemic continues. We expect even more cancellations to follow as more governments take the necessary steps to ensure the public’s health and safety.
We will receive no payment for any performance that must be cancelled under these circumstances. Our musicians will not get their fees and the MCO must still bear any logistical costs already incurred such as previously booked travel and accommodation. This situation leads to huge losses that threaten the livelihoods of our members and the very existence of our orchestra. Because we do not receive any structural state funding, we must rely almost entirely on touring performances to earn our income and to cover our operational costs. So if we cannot perform in public, we cannot get paid. The same is true for our musicians, who operate as freelancers. Continued losses on this scale are simply unsustainable.
At present, we are working closely with all of our promoters, our guest artists and every single one of our partners to find mutual solutions in spite of a shared uncertainty. And we are encountering a willingness to cooperate and a spirit of generosity that is encouraging and reassuring to all.
To our colleagues and friends who are already using digital technology to share their music with the world: we are all applauding you loudly and encouraging you to continue. The Mahler Chamber Orchestra has no hall of its own. We have no empty house to stream from. And as cancellations continue, our members, who live in 16 different countries across the world, do not even know when they will see each other again, let alone make music together.
Substantial decisions are needed quickly that will secure the future of cultural life and classical music after the coronavirus pandemic. We are united with every effort to ensure freelance musicians and free ensembles the financial relief that they will need to survive.
We face a serious global threat, an unpredictable future. As musicians, we will choose to face this by making and sharing music, however and wherever we can for as long as possible. Coronavirus will not silence us. The Mahler Chamber Orchestra will #KeepPlaying.