A Glimpse Into Life Back In The Hall

If you have any friends or colleagues in the Dallas Symphony Orchestra (DSO) I highly recommend you start following them closely on social media. The DSO is one of the handful of orchestras getting back into the hall for performance activity.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, musicians and staff have been posting firsthand accounts across social media of what that actually looks. The result is a fascinating glimpse into what sorts of precautions are being taken to keep artists and staff safe.

What’s especially heartening is the amount of collegial spirit that comes across. There’s a clear sense of common spirit and unity in the posts.

A few posts that caught my eye came from DSO principal tubist, Matt Good, who posted a picture of him emptying condensation into a spittoon the DSO purchased expressly for this purpose. Over his shoulder, you can see a sound shield being used to help marginalize droplet spread.

Thank you Jerry Hou for this photo. This is from our Thursday morning brass ensemble rehearsal. These spittoons were…

Posted by Matt Good on Sunday, June 21, 2020

This shot provides a better view of how the shields are being used.

Good to be back onstage!

Posted by Matt Good on Wednesday, June 17, 2020

Speaking of the shields, they provide their own unique sets of challenges when it comes to artistic considerations. I reached out to Good asking about that and the overall feeling about being back in the hall.

“The shields did make ensemble more difficult but we felt very safe,” said Good. “Everyone got a daily Covid test starting 24-hours before the first day back and each following morning before rehearsal. Face masks, hand sanitizer and gloves were made available to everyone.”

About Drew McManus

"I hear that every time you show up to work with an orchestra, people get fired." Those were the first words out of an executive's mouth after her board chair introduced us. That executive is now a dear colleague and friend but the day that consulting contract began with her orchestra, she was convinced I was a hatchet-man brought in by the board to clean house.

I understand where the trepidation comes from as a great deal of my consulting and technology provider work for arts organizations involves due diligence, separating fact from fiction, interpreting spin, as well as performance review and oversight. So yes, sometimes that work results in one or two individuals "aggressively embracing career change" but far more often than not, it reinforces and clarifies exactly what works and why.

In short, it doesn't matter if you know where all the bodies are buried if you can't keep your own clients out of the ground, and I'm fortunate enough to say that for more than 15 years, I've done exactly that for groups of all budget size from Qatar to Kathmandu.

For fun, I write a daily blog about the orchestra business, provide a platform for arts insiders to speak their mind, keep track of what people in this business get paid, help write a satirical cartoon about orchestra life, hack the arts, and love a good coffee drink.

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