10 orchestras and choirs making sure the show goes on while social distancing

10 orchestras and choirs making sure the show goes on while social distancing
l'Orchestre National de France performing "Le Boléro” by Maurice Ravel, virtually, while practising social distancing. Screenshot of their video.
Leading lights

In some ways, social distancing has brought us together. Within the space of a few weeks, FaceTime, Zoom, Skype, Google Hangout, and a plethora of other video chats have made the distance feel a little less daunting. Birthdays have been virtually celebrated, trips to the pub have been simulated, and loved ones have been able to connect with loved ones whether they live down the street or on the other side of the world.

Also getting in on the action, are orchestras and choirs around the world. Through video compilations – often recorded on phones and laptops – orchestras and choirs are embracing the new challenges we face. Each person playing their part on their own to do their part for the collective group. Not only are the videos beautiful, they highlight the importance of everyone doing their part by staying home while shedding light on those whose lives and livelihoods are extremely affected by COVID-19 but adjust to make due in an unprecedented time.

Here are just a few to bring some light and entertainment to your living room!


The Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra says they’re adjusting to this new norm by thinking “outside the box.” The Dutch orchestra, who has cancelled all performances through May, came together to perform Beethoven’s “Ode to Joy.”


In Italy, one of the countries most ravaged by COVID-19, the International Opera Choir performs a passionate “Va pensiero” by Giuseppe Verdi, long associated with Italian culture and history.


Also in Italy, are the Lavinium and SingUp choirs, who came together, virtually of course, to offer their rendition of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah.” The song is a song of hope on the best of days and now, feels ever more poignant. Having both had to cancel and postpone concerts, they turned to videos to come together in music.


France, too, has gotten in on the action through l’Orchestre Nationale de France. Based in Paris, the orchestra brings together dozens of talented musicians who they wanted to continue to play together despite needing to stay apart. Their choice composition? “Le Boléro” by Maurice Ravel.


With more than 60 singers, the Dublin Youth Choir, Chamber Choir, and Youth Choir joined forces to present “Nader My God By U” by James Stevens, arranged by André van der Merwe. Their contribution was their first shot at a virtual concert.


The West Australian Symphony Orchestra offered their “Bit o’Boléro,” too, with their segment of Ravel’s work. They also momentarily renamed themselves as the West Australian Social Distancing Orchestra. For their performance, 50 musicians played their part in the video.


After cancelling their forthcoming concerts, performances, and tours, Camden Voices, a choir in London, took to YouTube with “True Colors.”


Antwerp’s Philharmonic “Quarantine” Orchestra’s rendition of “Music” by John Miles not only highlights they orchestra but John Miles, too. Upbeat and fun, the video puts their own spin on what an orchestra is. Don’t let the percussionist playing on a child’s xylophone pass you by!


To get your acapella fill, here’s a student choir singing “Over the Rainbow” as part of the Chino Valley Unified School District Choral Festival. The festival went on despite COVID-19 and brought students together, virtually.


Finally, there’s the Couch Choir singing The Carpenters’ “Close To You.” Unlike those listed above, this choir is full of strangers, more than 1,000, from 18 different countries, to be exact. In 2017, Pub Choir™ began as a way to bring together those who love to sing, but aren’t singers. Pub Choir is guided by Astrid Jorgensen, Waveney Yasso, and Meg Bartholomew and in light of the current situation, they asked people to submit videos of themselves singing the song while practicing social distancing. The response was great and the outcome is even better.