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​The coronavirus changes everything – but it cannot stop the music!

by FMQ

​The coronavirus pandemic is affecting the lives of people all around the world, and the music sector is not immune to its impact. In Finland, for instance, the Government has decided to ban all public events with more than 500 attendees until further notice. But this cannot stop the music: times of crisis such as this heighten the importance of music in bringing people together and providing encouragement and comfort. FMQ compiles information on available live streaming and explains how Finnish music is responding to the challenges of the pandemic. This article will be updated on a weekly basis, so watch this space!

In the early months of 2020, the coronavirus has come touch the lives of people around the world, sending the economy into a downward spiral and decimating tourism. Culture, particularly the performing arts, has also been hit hard, with huge impacts on events and jobs in the music industry. 

The European Music Council (EMC), among others, has called upon all political decision makers to include the music sector at large in all planned aid efforts. "Because of the vulnerability of the sector, these measures need to be taken quickly and in a non-bureaucratic way to prevent individuals as well as organisations of all sizes from financial ruin," the council states. 

Severe losses - and new fundings and grants

According to a report by Music Finland, the corona pandemic has hit international music industry hard, as also in Finland. Last week Music Finland gathered information from Finnish music companies and freelancers about the impacts of the corona pandemic for their income and financial situation. The results of their surveys showed severe losses: "For enterprises, the lost revenues varied from tens of thousands of euros to several millions, and for many of them, this amounted to a large proportion of their annual income. The losses from even a few productions have put all activities of smaller companies at risk. For many freelancers, including composers, songwriters and musicians in different genres, the financial crisis is imminent as well."

Music Finland's report tells also that in the last few days, there have been several new fundings and grants (by Business Finland, for example) for the creative companies and freelancers in Finland, to help them continue their work in the time of the pandemic.

Read the full report here.


Konserttisali

Performances going online

After the restrictions imposed in Finland on 12 March, many individual artists have announced that they will be cancelling or postponing their tours. Also, several festivals have been cancelled – at least the Oulu Music Festival (8–22 March), April Jazz (22–26 April), the Helsinki Male Choir Weekend, the VII International Leevi Madetoja Male Voice Choir Competition (16–19 April) and the Tampere Biennale (1-5 April; See also the article).

Most symphony orchestras have posted information online concerning cancellations, and this information will be updated during the next weeks. However, many orchestras, artists and groups choose not to cancel their concerts entirely; they will be playing without public but will be streaming their concerts live online. Many orchestras have streaming platforms in place with which their audiences are already familiar.

On 16 March, Finnish music and event operators Lippu.fi, Rockway and the Finnish Musicians’ Union combined forces to alleviate losses of income by performers and organisers in the culture and event sector. Keikalla.fi is an online platform that brings together ticket sales, event production and performers and provides a streaming service managed by some of the top operators in the field, offering consumers access to performances by favourite artists, stand-up comedians and theatre companies. This will allow those employed in the event industry to carry on doing their work without live audiences.


A review of current information on concerts [updated on 3 April]:

In Finland, a Bulletin Board for Corona-free Activity - online concerts, museums and events - has been launched here, and Koronakonsertit - Corona gigs website here.

The Tampere Biennale 2020 has been cancelled. As a substituting programme, however, the Biennale and the Finnish Broadcasting Company YLE will organise a radio festival titled Tampere Biennale 2.0. Read more here.

The Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra (FRSO) will be continuing its performances online, but audiences will not be admitted to the concert hall between 13 March and 27 May 2020. The spring concerts consist of music for small ensembles. All FRSO concerts are streamed live on the YLE Areena website and broadcast live on YLE Radio 1, and also broadcast later on the YLE Teema and TV 1 channels.

The Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra has cancelled all its concerts this spring. Chamber music concerts by musicians of the orchestra will be live broadcast at Yle Areena. The next concert will take place on 3 April, the programme includes music by Johannes Brahms, Luciano Berio, Robert Schumann and Aulis Sallinen. Video and audio recordings of past concerts are available on the HPO Screen website.

The Finnish National Opera and Ballet has cancelled all performances and other public events until 14 April. Further information will be posted on the FNOB website as soon as possible. Opera and ballet performance can be viewed online at Stage24.

The Lahti Symphony Orchestra has cancelled the concerts unti 12 April. Concerts by the orchestra - as well as by other orchestras and ensembles form Finland and other countries - are available online at classiclive.com

Tapiola Sinfonietta's concerts with chamber music and children’s music will be live-streamed at kotona247.fi and on YouTube.

Other orchestras, such as the Jyväskylä Sinfonia, the Lapland Chamber Orchestra and the Turku Philharmonic Orchestra, have cancelled all their concerts for spring 2020. 


Encouraging, inspiring and uplifting music in the time of the pandemic can also be found in the playlists of FMQ and Music Finland:

FMQ Playlists

Music Finland's Playlist "Keep Calm and Listen to Finnish Music" (updated several times a week, with changing themes and genres)

Translation: Jaakko Mäntyjärvi
Featured photo by Arno de la Chapelle: The main concert hall in Musiikkitalo, Helsinki