LONDON — The Edinburgh International Festival, a showcase of international dance, music and theater, will go ahead in front of audiences this August, the festival’s organizers said on Tuesday.
The festival, which normally floods the city with tourists, was canceled last year because of the coronavirus pandemic. But events will be staged Aug. 7-29 in three pavilions across Edinburgh, Fergus Linehan, the festival’s director, said in a telephone interview.
The pavilions will be specially built to maximize air flow and allow social distancing, he added.
The festival’s program will be released in June, Linehan said; the organizers are still waiting for a decision from the Scottish government about how many people will be allowed to attend. But the ongoing pandemic and the limits it has placed on international travel mean it will have a different flavor from normal.
“In terms of the people onstage, we’re not going to be flying in a big dance company from the U.S., or an opera company from Paris,” Linehan said. “But there are individual artists coming.”
Orchestre de Paris performing epic pieces by Beethoven and Berlioz, as well as several presentations by the Komische Oper Berlin. That will also change this year. “We can’t have that many musicians onstage, and we can’t have those big choral bits,” Linehan said, but he insisted smaller works would be just as exciting and innovative.
Many performances will be streamed free for international audiences, he added.
Coronavirus cases have fallen rapidly in Scotland this spring thanks to an extended lockdown and a strong vaccination program. On Monday, there were only 199 new cases reported among a population of around 5 million, and no deaths within 28 days of a positive test, according to Scottish Government figures.
But many restrictions are still in place, including on cultural life. Museums cannot reopen until Apr. 26. Other cultural activities cannot restart until May 17 at the earliest, and even then, only with small audiences.
The Edinburgh International Festival is one of a host of arts events that normally take place in the city each summer. The festival’s organizers insist the others will occur in some form, too.
A spokeswoman for the scrappy Edinburgh Festival Fringe, which normally features thousands of small theater and comedy shows, said in an email that organizers were working toward an event to run Aug. 6-30. It was still unclear if the Fringe would be “digital, in person, or both,” she added.
Edinburgh International Book Festival will also proceed from Aug. 14 with in-person events “if circumstances permit,” a spokeswoman said in a telephone interview.
The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo, a popular series of parades involving bagpipe performances by armed forces from around the world, is also set to go on. It started selling tickets last October but has not provided any updates since. On Tuesday, its organizers did not respond to a request for comment.
Linehan said he hoped the International Festival’s announcement would give confidence to other events to press ahead with plans. His festival won’t make any money, he said, but that didn’t matter. “This is a really momentous moment for us,” Linehan said, adding: “It’s really important we get back to live performance.”
The coronavirus pandemic has dealt a devastating blow to performing arts institutions nationwide, closing their theaters and robbing them of ticket revenue. But for the New York Philharmonic and Lincoln Center, it has also offered a silver lining: the opportunity to accelerate the long-delayed renovation of David Geffen Hall.
With concerts in the hall canceled since March 2020, construction began in earnest over the past few months. Work is expected to continue for the next year and a half, with a reopening planned for fall 2022, the orchestra and center announced on Monday.
That is a year and a half ahead of schedule, though it comes with the trade-off that the Philharmonic will not be at Geffen for the wave of triumphant cultural homecomings expected around the country this fall, assuming the pandemic ebbs.
The orchestra will nevertheless still spend much of its coming season at Lincoln Center, with the majority of its performances at Alice Tully Hall or the Rose Theater. Though it plans to announce its full program in early June, Deborah Borda, the Philharmonic’s chief executive, said in a video interview with other orchestra and center leaders that she anticipated smaller-scale and intermissionless concerts, at least at first.
that jump-started the project in 2015.
“Through 2020, quite rightly, people’s minds were elsewhere, and we had lots of other challenges as organizations,” Timms said. “But once we got to the end of the year, the opportunity became clear: Could we do this sooner? That became a period in which a lot of people stepped up to support the project, because they saw it as a recovery story, a way to invest in the economic and human recovery of the city.”
The old plan had called for progression in stages to limit disruption to the Philharmonic, which would never have lost a full season in the hall. Katherine Farley, the chairwoman of Lincoln Center’s board, said the new timeline would not diminish the scope of the renovation, which aims to render the lackluster hall more aesthetically and acoustically appealing. Seating will wrap around the stage, which will be pulled forward 25 feet to what is currently Row J, bringing a greater sense of intimacy to what can feel like a cavernous shoe box. The new space will have about 2,200 seats, down from 2,738.
in a rented pickup truck for pop-up performances, and has said it will be back on the road this spring. Its NYPhil+ subscription streaming service was unveiled in February, featuring archival concerts and some fresh content. On April 14 and 15, a contingent of players will appear in front of small audiences at the Shed, 30 blocks south of Lincoln Center, with the conductor Esa-Pekka Salonen. (Jaap van Zweden, the Philharmonic’s music director, was not available because of commitments overseas, though he was in New York recently to tape two programs for NYPhil+.)
But its losses have been crushing. The orchestra has projected that the cancellation of its 2020-21 season resulted in $21 million in lost ticket revenue, on top of $10 million lost in the final months of its season last spring. (Some of that has been mitigated by emergency fund-raising.) Even when live performances resume, despite Borda’s rosy predictions, the box office may not bounce back immediately.
The need for savings that will extend beyond the pandemic was reflected in a new four-year contract agreed to by the orchestra and its musicians in December, which includes a 25 percent cut to the players’ base pay through August 2023. Pay will then gradually increase until the contract ends in September 2024, though at that point the musicians will still be paid less than they were before the pandemic.
plotted a return to its old home, Carnegie Hall; that plan fizzled, further damaging relations between the orchestra and Lincoln Center, its landlord, which also uses the hall for its own musical presentations and for corporate rentals. Concluding in 2012, a $1.2 billion redevelopment of the center left improvements all over — but the costly hall overhaul was not included.
restarted the project with the donation that gave the hall his name. Construction was supposed to start in 2019, but stalled well before that amid logistical problems and management turnover at both the Philharmonic and Lincoln Center. That plan had called for finishing the hall in time for the 2021-22 season. It was a schedule that the orchestra and center came to doubt was viable, but had they been able to stick to it, the renovated hall would have been ready to open just as the city hopes to emerge from the long pandemic closure.
Borda was hired in 2017 in large part to put the renovation back on track; in her previous job leading the Los Angeles Philharmonic, she had brought the construction of Walt Disney Concert Hall over the finish line. In New York, she pushed for a scheme less flashy and more achievable than some of the proposed options — one less likely to overrun its budget and designed to unfold in phases, limiting the stretches the Philharmonic would be exiled.
To be away from the hall for multiple years was assumed to pose an existential threat to its audience’s loyalty. Ironically, if Geffen reopens as now scheduled, the orchestra will have been out of its home for nearly two and a half seasons straight — exactly the situation that was so feared by its management.
As for David Geffen, who expressed frustration at some of the earlier setbacks in the years since his gift, Farley said in the interview that she had just spoken to him earlier that day.
“He’s a guy who’s big on efficiency,” she said, “and loves the idea we’re building it in one shot.”
Paul Laubin, a revered oboe maker who was one of the few remaining woodwind artisans to build their instruments by hand — he made so few a year that customers might have had to wait a decade to play one — died on March 1 at his workshop in Peekskill, N.Y. He was 88.
His wife, Meredith Laubin, said that Mr. Laubin collapsed at his workshop during the day and that the police found his body that night. He lived in Mahopac, N.Y.
In the world of oboes, his partisans believe, there are Mr. Laubin’s oboes and then there is everything else.
He was in his early 20s when he began making oboes with his father, Alfred, who founded A. Laubin Inc. and built his first oboe in 1931. Paul took over the business when his father died in 1976. His son, Alex, began working alongside him in 2003.
Sherry Sylar, the associate principal oboist of the New York Philharmonic. “It’s a resonance that doesn’t happen with any other oboe. It rings inside your body. You get addicted to making that kind of a sound and nothing else will do.”
In a dusty workshop near the Hudson River, lined with machines built as long ago as 1881, Mr. Laubin crafted his oboes and English horns with almost religious precision. He wore an apron and puffed a cob pipe as he drilled and lathed the grenadilla and rosewood used to make his instruments. (The pipe doubled as a testing device: Mr. Laubin would blow smoke through the instrument’s joints to detect air leaks.)
His father taught him techniques that date back centuries. As the decades passed and instrument makers embraced computerized design and factory automation, Paul Laubin resisted change. As far as he was concerned, if it took 10 years to build a good oboe, so be it.
“What’s the rush?” he said in an interview with The New York Times in 1991. “I don’t want anything going out of here with my name that I haven’t made and checked and played myself.”
told News 12 Westchester in 2012.
When a Laubin oboe was finally completed, its unveiling was cause for celebration. One customer arrived at the Peekskill workshop with a bottle of champagne, and as he played his first few notes, Mr. Laubin raised a toast.
told The Times in 1989. “I would have to think twice about starting it today.”
The company’s fate is now undetermined. Alex Laubin served as office manager and helped with some aspects of production but did not learn the full process. He often urged his father to modernize their operation — to little avail.
“No one sits down anymore and files out keys,” Meredith Laubin said. “No one turns out one oboe joint at a time. This is all automated now, like how robots make cars. But Paul wasn’t endorsing any of these things. To him, there was no cheating the family recipe.”
Mr. Laubin knew, however, that the old ways would come to an end. He was finding it harder to ignore the realities of being an Old World artisan in the modern era.
“Paul got to have one part of his dream, which was to be able to work with his son,” Ms. Laubin said. “But the other part of his dream, knowing that his work would continue on in the way he did things, he knew that wasn’t going to happen.”
Still, he hewed to tradition to the end. On his work table the day he died lay the beginnings of Laubin oboe No. 2,600.
A few weeks ago, Citigroup began providing at-home Covid-19 testing kits to many of its workers in Chicago and New York. Each kit includes a nasal swab, a paper strip and a liquid solution, and people get a result within minutes. “It looks a little like a pregnancy test,” Dr. Lori Zimmerman, Citigroup’s medical director, told me.
The company is distributing enough tests for employees to take them three times per week, typically on Monday, Wednesday and Friday mornings. Soon, Citigroup will expand the program to all 6,000 of its U.S. bank branches. The goal, Zimmerman said, is to help people learn that they have Covid before they can infect colleagues or customers.
This is the kind of ambitious testing program that many medical experts believe should be available across the country. Why? Even as more Americans are receiving vaccine shots, the country remains months away from vaccination being the norm. In the meantime, wide-scale testing can allow life to begin returning to normal — without setting off deadly new Covid outbreaks.
We have to do more,” Jennifer Nuzzo, an epidemiologist at Johns Hopkins University, told me. “This pandemic is not over. We still have dangerously high levels.”
‘It pays for itself’
Testing has declined partly because the health care system has instead focused on giving vaccine shots. And vaccinations are indeed more important than Covid tests. But the country should not have to choose between the two, experts say. If the U.S. can accelerate both vaccinations and testing, the payoff would be huge, in terms of lives saved and schools and businesses reopened.
“It pays for itself,” Dr. Michael Mina, a Harvard University epidemiologist who has argued for more testing, said. “Tests are one of the easiest, least burdensome things we could do.”
For Monica Jurado, a Citi personal banker on the South Side of Chicago, testing has become a simple part of her morning ritual. After taking a test, she gets ready for work — and, 20 minutes later, she can see the test result. “It gives me tremendous peace of mind knowing that I am coming to work safe, and so are my co-workers,” Jurado said.
Worldwide, several countries, including Australia and South Korea, have already used mass testing to hold down Covid cases, as Vox’s Umair Irfan notes. Many colleges in the U.S., as well as pro sports leagues, have also relied on testing to continue operating. And Biden administration officials say they are committed to making tests more available, including for people who show no symptoms.
Carole Johnson, the White House’s testing coordinator, told me yesterday. “We think it’s really important.”
So what will it take for the U.S. to do more testing?
Three steps for more tests
Money. The recently passed virus-relief law includes $50 billion for expanded testing, including $10 billion for schools. That will help, experts say, although it’s not yet clear how much.
The tests that Citigroup is giving cost about $5 each, when bought in large quantities. A nationwide program of universal mass testing for unvaccinated people would probably cost a few billion dollars a week — which, again, pales compared with the cost of extended shutdowns. The country’s current testing plan is much less aggressive.
Logistical help. With many hospitals and pharmacies focused on vaccinations, people need places to get tested. The Biden administration is working with state and local officials to open four regional coordinating centers in coming weeks.
Corporate America can play a role, as well. Large Canadian companies recently created a consortium to give rapid-result tests to employees, and the group’s organizers announced this week that they planned to expand into the U.S.
F.D.A. approval. Citigroup has been able to distribute its tests — which are known as rapid antigen tests — only because it is doing so as part of an academic study; the Food & Drug Administration has not approved the tests Citigroup is using. The agency has approved two other at-home antigen tests, but they are not yet widely available.
One issue is that rapid-antigen tests are slightly less accurate — missing some people who have Covid — than the other main type of test, which is known as a P.C.R. test and isn’t an option for mass home testing. But that’s OK. Think of it this way: Citigroup is detecting many more Covid cases than most employers are.
200 million vaccinations in his first 100 days — is not ambitious enough to get there). Second, the administration will have to find a way to reverse the recent decline in testing.
A programming note: I will be on break next week, and my colleagues will be delivering The Morning to your inbox. I’ll be back Tuesday, April 6.
THE LATEST NEWS
Biden’s News Conference
what New York’s burlesque performers are missing.
Modern Love: She tried to keep her expectations in check. Would that make it hurt less?
Lives Lived: Jessica Walter’s acting career included roles on Broadway and an Emmy-winning turn on the 1970s show “Amy Prentiss.” But she may be best known as the martini-swilling matriarch of the Bluth family on “Arrested Development.” Walter died at 80.
completing violin sonata fragments that the composer left behind.
Posthumous completions aren’t uncommon in classical music. But Jones’s latest effort comes with a twist: He made multiple completed versions of each fragment, each emphasizing different aspects of Mozart’s style.
He also benefited from recent research that helped put a more accurate date on Mozart’s compositions. “Having a precise sense of the context for these fragments is what let me ask detailed hypothetical questions about what his compositional strategy might have been,” Jones told The Times. “What was he working on, listening to, his compositional interests? That was key, because his style is still evolving really quite fast up until he died, in 1791.”
PLAY, WATCH, EAT
What to Cook
Here’s today’s Mini Crossword, and a clue: Enlightened (five letters).
If you’re in the mood to play more, find all our games here.
Thanks for spending part of your morning with The Times. I’m off next week. My colleagues will arrive in your inbox while I’m gone. — David
P.S. Apoorva Mandavilli, a Times science reporter, has a master’s degree in biochemistry, speaks seven languages and has a weakness for “Bridgerton.” In a Q. & A., she talks about covering the pandemic.
The renowned cellist Yo-Yo Ma gives an impromptu performance in a vaccine waiting room in Pittsfield, Massachusetts, after having received his second dose of the coronavirus vaccine. He performs Ave Maria and the prelude to Bach’s Cello Suite No 1 to the small number of patients waiting to receive the dose. Ma, who played for about 15 minutes, is a part-time resident of the area and wanted to ‘give something back’ to his community, according to a local paper, the Berkshire Eagle