The virtual premiere of Nico Muhly’s “Throughline” is testing the limits of pandemic music-making

Joshua Barone in the New York Times:

Esa-Pekka Salonen didn’t expect to make his entrance at the San Francisco Symphony with a virtual premiere.

But it’s fitting. Mr. Salonen, a conductor and composer who has branded himself an industry innovator — an eager adopter of apps and virtual reality — is taking the helm of the orchestra of the world’s tech capital. And the first thing it will play under his leadership as music director, Nico Muhly’s “Throughline,” is a bellwether in the emerging genre of works created for the constraints, and possibilities, of music-making in our moment.

Orchestra performances, in the traditional sense, are rare these days. The coronavirus pandemic forced the closure of concert halls across the United States in March; few are open now, and none are operating at anything approaching capacity. The industry has been ravaged, but scattered alternatives are taking shape: small groups outdoors, and instrumentalists playing in empty or near-empty auditoriums for live or recorded streaming online.

More here.