Dallas Symphony Orchestra and Members of the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra Perform Together in Solidarity
by Stewart Williams
President, Local 72-147
Last weekend I had the pleasure of attending a joint performance of 50 musicians of the Dallas Symphony with 50 musicians of the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra. Together they performed Mahler’s Symphony No. 1 on April 30 and May 1 at the Meyerson Symphony Center in Dallas. The performance was unique and unprecedented, bringing together 100 musicians from two major symphony orchestras, and doing so through the difficulties of the COVID-19 Pandemic. The Meyerson stage was enlarged by two extensions, bringing the orchestra’s musicians well into the central area of the audience chamber, with brass players placed in the choral terrace, above and behind the rest of the orchestra, all socially distanced. This alone made the event an inspirational presentation of music, performed against the odds.
While the Dallas and Fort Worth Symphonies have been on the forefront of keeping performances going throughout the pandemic, the Metropolitan Opera has infamously not taken care of its famous and distinguished orchestra with any of the same care. Like so many musicians across the country, the MET Orchestra Musicians had been without pay for nearly a year. Many were forced to leave their homes in New York as a result.
Addressing the audience before the concert, DSO President Kim Noltemy announced to welcoming, affectionate applause that this was the first time the MET Orchestra musicians – alongside our own – had performed together in more than a year. Through the bond of musicians performing together, the Dallas Symphony had come to the MET Orchestra musicians in their time of need – our musical establishment reaching out to another in tough times, offering some hope, financial support, and the hand of friendship.
We must acknowledge Kim Noltemy who with her signature fortitude, along with generous financial supporters, brought together the community to support the event. Our thanks also go out to DSO Music Director Fabio Luisi, who through affection for the MET Orchestra Musicians after serving as their principal conductor, provided the inspiration and impetus to make this happen.
In addition to this being an historic artistic collaboration and a gesture of solidarity, the event is also a fundraiser for our musicians who are in the most need. “As well as a celebration in music,” said Noltemy. “These concerts are benefits for the MET Orchestra Musicians Fund and the Dallas-Fort Worth Musicians COVID-19 Relief Fund.” As musicians everywhere have been devastated by the loss of employment over the last year, this will allow us here in North Texas to continue providing support for our musicians who are still in need through applications to the DFW Musicians COVID-19 Relief Fund. You may still make a donation through the DSO’s website by clicking HERE.
Gustav Mahler once said, “The symphony must be like the world. It must be all-embracing.” Perhaps Mahler’s music is most appropriate of all to express the tenor of these times (how ironic it is that its sheer scope has made it particularly un-performable during the Pandemic). In his symphonies, Mahler strove to musically represent all that makes the world what it is, all the experiences in life that make us who we are: joy, sadness, shock, terror, play, tenderness, love, defeat, and yes, triumph. This was the feeling of the night as the final notes of this symphony rang to a conclusion. This music – this performance – reminds that we will play to our audiences again, put our lives back together. We will build back better.
Unable to attend? The performance will be live streamed for free at www.dallassymphony.org on Tuesday, May 11.
Free chamber music with DSO & Met Orchestra Musicians continue this week. Click HERE for more information.