The Seoul Philharmonic Concert put on a live broadcast on YouTube today of Ludwig van Beethoven’s Symphony No. 3, Eroica, as part of a government campaign to offer comfort to people during the coronavirus epidemic.
The orchestra chose the piece, which means “heroic,” as a tribute to all medical staff, government officials, and volunteers who have dedicated themselves to fighting the disease, it said (link in Korean). It also said it wanted to offer comfort to tired citizens during the epidemic, as much of normal life is on pause in line with the government’s “Hold up!” campaign to encourage social distancing.
Some of the musicians could be seen wearing masks during the performance. Today’s performance was conducted by Wilson Ng, a Hong Kong-born assistant conductor at the orchestra.
The performance is part of a slate of online performances planned by the Seoul city government starting today, according to Korean media, as public gatherings and performances have been banned in the country. Seoul’s Sejong Center for the Performing Arts will also broadcast performances online.
South Korea has almost 8,000 confirmed coronavirus cases, though the number of daily new infections has been slowing in recent days. Yesterday, the daily number of recovered patients exceeded the daily number of new infections for the first time.
It’s not the only arts initiative implemented by Korean authorities to ease the burden of the coronavirus on its citizens. Some local libraries in Korea have also started drive-thru services for those who want to borrow books while public libraries are closed, and Millie’s Library, an e-book subscription service in Korea, opened up its library for two months for free to coronavirus patients and those under quarantine at home.