Edit: This was so much fun! Dr. Prokocimer and I will be signing off for now but we will try our best to check back in later today and tomorrow. Please support Mainly Mozart. These drive-in concerts are free to the public but not free to operate.

  • Donate to help "Keep Live Music Alive" HERE.

  • If you'd like to attend the upcoming concert, click HERE.

  • If you live in Southern California and would like to secure your space to these concerts, join Club Amadeus HERE.


Hello Reddit! Excited for my first AMA. My name is Martin Chalifour, I am Principal Concertmaster of the Los Angeles Philharmonic and teach at Caltech and the USC Thornton School of Music.

I have also performed with the Mainly Mozart Festival Orchestra in San Diego for the past thirty years. Mainly Mozart's orchestra is a collection of the country's top orchestral players and a true symbol of musical excellence. On July 11, Mainly Mozart put on the first live classical concert in the U.S. (presented by a major arts organization) in front of a live audience since quarantine began. It was an emotional experience to be back performing in my first concert since mid-March.

I also have infectious disease expert Dr. Philippe Prokocimer here with me (not in person!) to answer any questions you may have regarding the safety of drive-in concerts. Dr. Prokocimer went to medical school in Paris, France, and did his post-doctoral studies at Stanford University's School of Medicine in the 80s and did important work during the AIDs crisis, tuberculosis and antibiotic resistance.

The arts are so incredibly important, if you're able, please consider donating to help us Keep Live Music Alive. You can do so at mainlymozart.org/donate.

Check mainlymozart.org for details.

You can follow Mainly Mozart on at facebook.com/mainlymozart, instagram.com/mainlymozart https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCGbDET38AWa8qZSYwqctong

Proof: https://imgur.com/a/JKDF1tb

Comments: 222 • Responses: 49  • Date: 

Tonalization107 karma

Is Dudamel's hair as luscious in person as it appears on camera?

MainlyMozartSD83 karma

haha! we used to joke about it with him... but he keeps pointing out now that it's a little grey

Altemaestro105 karma

Where do you see live classical music performances in the months to come as countries around the world try to adapt to the pandemic?

MainlyMozartSD123 karma

I'm confident we should continue to push for more live events outside AND inside, to the extent that we need to keep it safe. Even this summer we've seen some organizations open their doors to a few donors while ensembles streamed a concert. i must say, playing for only a dozen people in a near empty hall is not ideal either. A drive-in concert where everybody expresses their enthusiasm (with car horns and bright headlights) is much more exciting. It's about the shared experience between players and audience !

classically_cool51 karma

What is your favorite concertmaster solo?

MainlyMozartSD111 karma

Scheherazade by Rimsky Korsakov

fourlights46 karma

A drive-in concert is a fantastic idea! Can you share a few details, like how is sound being managed? An all-acoustic environment played to people in their cars would lose a tremendous amount of detail, so I'm assuming that there will be some (transparent) amplification involved?

Also, how are the ensembles playing together while maintaining safety? The most recent research shows that there is no safe physical distancing for singing, and likely for wind instruments, either, so are you only programming music for strings, percussion, piano, etc.? Or have you been advised with new information about effective distancing for vocalists and wind players?

MainlyMozartSD51 karma

Thank you- I was apprehensive at first to perform in such a setting, indeed with potentially losing some detail. But actually the overall LIVE feel is more important, and our audio team did an amazing job at translating what was going on the stage. We had serious wind noise issue on 7/11 because our mics were not close enough AND we played in an open field in the mid PM. but it got resolved with sound checks.

string playing is DEFINITELY safer, and we were a min. of 6 ft WITH masks on- in rehearsal too (thanks to my friend Jerry Kohl's offer to use his shaded garden). vocals and wind players will typically need a transparent shield around them to protect others, or a huge distance

macsta40 karma

That must have been quite an experience, "putting the band back together" after an unprecedented silence. How was the mood?

MainlyMozartSD46 karma

really happy musicians all around me! we were glad to experience making music together, using our sense of timing and being able to play with spontaneity

chrstne10128 karma

How many hours of practice does it take before you’re ready to perform a solo?

MainlyMozartSD46 karma

hundreds! (for a concerto lasting more than 10 minutes) if it's an easier collaboration piece like a baroque or classical sonata , non-momorized, it can be less

Nomuu27 karma

Do you practice 40 hours a day?

MainlyMozartSD21 karma

wish I could.... I really enjoyed the fact that I have more time available to practice nowadays, but it comes at the cost of BEING IN A PANDEMIC. A lot of my colleagues are depressed I'm sure...

lalarid178723 karma

Do you and the other musicians on stage get the same reaction from car horns as applause as opposed to standing ovations in a concert hall?

MainlyMozartSD25 karma

same "feel" - it's a little loud for some of us, but I don't mind at all.

orangejulius17 karma

What do you listen to at home?

What's your favorite piece to perform live?

MainlyMozartSD40 karma

beautiful baroque music, Spotify indie , things I search on youtube such as covers of classic rock, especially PROGRESSIVE ROCK! favorite piece to perform: SCHUBERT CELLO QUINTET

Red_hat_oops16 karma

Can you share any information about your instrument?

MainlyMozartSD27 karma

for this concert I played a beautiful modern violin by Mario Miralles who live in Los Angeles. It's made with bird's eye maple

Red_hat_oops9 karma

Do you own all the violins you use? Or do various makers loan you instruments for use?

MainlyMozartSD30 karma

I also get to play a Stradivari violin on loan from the Philharmonic! There are other opportunities for me to borrow fine Italian violins for specific concerts, since there are many collectors in town. I purchased an Irish violin a few years ago as a backup, and totally LOVE it . By Thomas Perry- centuries old!

low_fiber_cyber13 karma

How have you been handling practice sessions? Physical distancing is not the norm for performance/practice facilities.

MainlyMozartSD26 karma

So far it's been ok. BECAUSE we are outside where the sound is clean. But it's a bit softer volume in general so you have to really listen to others and concentrate. The real issue will come when we have to rehearse with a large group INDOORS , with the added distance. Some halls have too much reverb and will make that nearly impossible. 12 or 14 violinists playing the same line, but covering almost the lenght of tennis court? good luck to us all

P_Gatta11 karma

In your experience is a classical music getting more or less popular?

Have you ever played music from movies, like Star Wars or Pirates of the Caribbean? If not, would you like to?

MainlyMozartSD17 karma

it continues to speak to a ton of people.
The LAPHIL often plays movie music , even on tour. A dvd and cd just came out with John Williams's music- He's a great friend of the Phil, and of Gustavo. Folks can fall in love and discover classical at any age... and maturity often helps "get" the meaning of it.

chaosminon10 karma

What did you do to negate the massive amount of aerosol spit your musicians put out. Who had to clean up your spit valve leavings?

MainlyMozartSD8 karma

brass players have trash cans next to them! that's what we did at the bowl when we filmed a clip for tv "GLOBAL CITIZEN"

maximumhotsauce10 karma

This is a bit more general, but I've always wondered what the process of writing / adapting music for an orchestra is.

Does a single person write the score for each instrument? Or is there a different person who writes the sheets for their section of the orchestra? Or maybe some system that's entirely different to both those?

It seems like a colossal undertaking for a single person!

MainlyMozartSD16 karma

a composition is normally all done by ONE composer! they are extremely skilled at knowing how each instrument works, it's range and limitations etc. These days they are helped by notation software, but the creative part all has to come from them of course

spyan_9 karma

Is everything better with pyrotechnics? From a former Hollywood Bowl pyro team member. ;)

MainlyMozartSD9 karma

at the end, maybe yes !

PianoDude12127 karma

I have a question for Dr. Prokocimer. Recently in California we have been on a roller coaster of opening and closing of businesses, and it seems the consensus is, outdoor activities and business are much safer than indoor. Do you think drive-in concerts are the new normal for live entertainment?

MainlyMozartSD11 karma

Hi Pianodude, yes, I think drive-in concerts may become the new normal for a while, until we can move indoor safely. They're also so much fun I could see them making a big come back even when social distancing requirements loosen.

Thanks for the question, Dr. Prokocimer

Pennwisedom7 karma

We've seen a decent number of people pick up violin during quarantine. So what do you think the biggest piece of advice to give to beginners is?

MainlyMozartSD15 karma

Suzuki or similar teacher online? it's good to have somebody look at the hand positions right away not to pick up bad habits. even over Zoom or video chat.

Pennwisedom4 karma

Suzuki or similar teacher online?

For the most part yea exactly. I've actually put so much effort into figuring out how I can place the camera properly.

MainlyMozartSD13 karma

put the camera at EYE LEVEL, much higher than normal, and showing no more than the top of your head. the coach needs to see where your bow arm goes, on the bottom of the screen

andy_toystory7 karma

What other genre of music you listen to?

MainlyMozartSD13 karma

EVERYTHING, but for some reason I am only at the discovery stage with jazz pop, indie, folk, classic rock , french rap etc!

akairborne6 karma

What do you recommend smaller symphonies and choral groups (we're in Alaska) do to cultivate and try to grow the culture during the pandemic?

MainlyMozartSD13 karma

for months in March I set out to keep up my skills by recording myself on a laptop, and then using free software to record the other part of a duo . That kept my sense of rhythm honest, and ensemble feel to a point. I even did that remotely with others in town, and I'm in the middle of a project with 3 people now, a pianist and a singer ! you could assign a group of 4 singers to do the same and learn a few basic skill of AUDIO EDITING. it's not that hard!
for a small orchestra, distance, distance , distance

lalarid17876 karma

I have a question for Dr. Prokocimer: Would you think, once it is safe to return to indoor performances, masks would continue to be needed to be worn by patrons and musicians for the foreseeable future?

MainlyMozartSD6 karma

That’s an interesting question. I think there is a good chance we’ll keep wearing masks. First we have to acknowledge that viruses or other pathogens do not ask for permission and will not disappear , because they are part of life. This Covid is a nasty one but there are a lot of good pathogens that are necessary to the survival of our species. So this one , like others, will stick around, hopefully below a critical threshold. Regarding the mask, After all, we have become used to many things that were unthinkable in the past (e.g airport and other places security, being searched when entering a public place, etc...). So after all, wearing a mask is not the most intrusive protection for our safety.

Dr. Prokocimer

MainlyMozartSD5 karma

the good thing is that there are STRING players in the front row of an orchestra- so less chance of transmitting , especially with masks on. But it's hard for me... I have to wear contact lenses because my glasses fog up... and my vision is not as clear with contacts.

objeteh5 karma

Any thoughts on Ben Shapiro's argument that rap music should not be considered music? An educated master's opinion would be interesting. Cheers

MainlyMozartSD8 karma

I mentioned that I like French rap because it's in my native tongue. I believe the music used in rap is an accessory , or a very useful tool to deliver the message. what you get is the equivalent of mixed media in visual art. Music: secondary layer, speech first layer

blckravn015 karma

Have you or other members used JackTrip to host online rehearsals?

MainlyMozartSD4 karma

don't know what that is!

srys984 karma

What are your thoughts in the “Carnatic” music,I studied it in a violin for 5 years and found it very too difficult to master it compared to the western type?

MainlyMozartSD2 karma

what is it?

MainlyMozartSD2 karma

What is it?

MainlyMozartSD4 karma

like Ragas? I like them a lot- never attempted , though Zubin Mehta programmed a large orchestral piece in that style before. It was virtuosic and difficult

georgiapc4 karma

Mozart juxtaposed with favorites like Rhapsody seems so clever and fun for an accessible outdoors concert! Do you have other interesting arrangements you hope to play soon?

MainlyMozartSD4 karma

I hope we can do more Duke Ellington ! I have a few more numbers for strings, like "Sophisticated Lady' etc. I'm lucky I play a string instrument. They are so versatile

georgiapc4 karma

It seems like the old Del Mar Racetrack is a great setting for this type of drive-in concert. Do you think this idea can be taken to other venues? Do you have any thoughts on why it isn't already more wide-spread?

How does it feel different from playing outdoors at the Hollywood Bowl? (working with amplified sound, the elements, etc..)


MainlyMozartSD7 karma

it think it IS taking off. Some big rock concerts have happened here in Ventura Ca. the feel is similar to the bowl! the Hollywood Bowl has very little natural acoustics. it's just extremely well processed and the combo of mics and speakers and giant screens has cost well over a hundred thousand over the years.

lipiti3 karma

To Dr. Prokocimer, what do you think about plexiglass shields in front of singers and wind players?

MainlyMozartSD3 karma

Plexiglass shields in front of singers and wind players may be unpractical in such situations, although désirable. Keeping a distance may be the best approach if enough space available. This may not be the case for a large chorus though. Tough call. Good question though.

Dr. Prokocimer

Ovakilz3 karma

Based on reading news about orchestra’s struggling to stay afloat (especially smaller, less-funded ones), how is the orchestra industry going to change? Will there be less opportunities for classical performance students who have recently graduated from conservatories/universities to obtain a seat in an orchestra?


MainlyMozartSD2 karma

sadly I think several small orchestras will have to halt their activities and close shope- hopefully to reopen someday soon.

thelettergii3 karma

Are there any orchestral pieces that you wish the general public was more familiar with?

MainlyMozartSD8 karma

YES! music of French composer Arthur Honegger "Pastorale d'été" and I wish there was more exchanges between Canada and the US in terms of contemporary music...

killjoy24083 karma

Do u think the Walt Disney concert hall will open up next year for performances?

MainlyMozartSD1 karma

we hope so, in 2021

10mesp3 karma

How are you and your colleagues coping with the financial hit that all performers have taken during the quarantine?

Are there any other organizations we should know about that can help performing artists survive these terrible times?

MainlyMozartSD2 karma

We're lucky that we kept our health benefits for the time being, and receive a reduced salary. There are many groups trying to help. I would need to research that to give you a useful answer...

true_spokes2 karma

Does anything change acoustically between traditional packed seating venue and these new drive-in/remote viewing formats?

MainlyMozartSD2 karma

of course- but you can amplify sound fairly easily and keep it beautiful. The only thing you lose is being able to discern which player the solo comes from- because it all comes from speakers further away

mj23232 karma

I remember the LA Phil playing Esa Pekka’s Helix. Still one of my all time favorite pieces. Does the LA Phil still keep in touch with Salonen?

MainlyMozartSD2 karma

yes! he has an official title as conductor laureate. We still work with him several weeks a year, and always welcome him back with smiles

jackiegmusic2 karma

Hello! During your planning stage, how did you plan to keep the orchestra members & other backstage/crew members safe (and socially distanced) during the concert? And did you have to make any big changes to this plan on the day of the concert?

MainlyMozartSD3 karma

we use tables backstage for our cases and can take turns putting our instruments away or picking them up. The crew is more mobile since they don't carry precious instruments in their hands, so they can distance themselves.

jshanks17872 karma

When do you think it will be safe to have concerts like we used to have?

MainlyMozartSD5 karma

Hello Jshanks1787! I think we are many month away from having concerts like we used to have. Probably not before 2021, but hard to say when.

  • Dr. Prokocimer

onemushroompizza-plz2 karma

Thank you for doing this AMA! So interesting to hear how live performances are evolving during this time. I miss playing chamber music live, do you have recommendations on how to meet safely? So far, we send recordings to one another but it’s not the same meeting together in person.

MainlyMozartSD1 karma

you could start playing outside with a friend you trust. Someone who has not been going out all the time. face slithly away from each other, just enough to keep in view from the corner of your eyes. WEAR MASKS!

sathvik662 karma

Hi, thanks for doing the AMA!

The only knowledge I have about English classical music is from the show on Amazon Prime, Mozart in the jungle and the movie Whiplash. If you have watched them, I would like to know how closely does it resemble to the actual orchestra culture? Does one get to reach high levels of excellence without being obsessed by it?

Thanks again, take care.

MainlyMozartSD5 karma

great question... in classical music I'd say you can be super accomplished and useful even if you don't have an obsessive trait- but the best soloists often have it!!!

lipiti2 karma

What’s your favorite piece of pop music? Who’s your favorite pop artist?

MainlyMozartSD5 karma

see above! I am open to all kinds of good music. the funny thing is , since I am a ESL person, english as a second language, the lyrics are not as important to me- the MUSIC has to be really good. my faves are really old prog rock: Emerson Lake and Palmer , Genesis, Jethro Tull, Yes etc.

MainlyMozartSD1 karma

I have many faves... eurythmics, Madonna, Michael Jackson, Pat Benatar, Fleetwood Mac, and more recent ones like Aurora, Keith Urban, Celine Dion (my compatriote!)

Boollish2 karma

I'd be interested to hear what someone who plays hundreds of repertoire from all different periods and composers thinks. Taking the following composers from different time periods (in rough descending age from the top of my head), can you rank them in your favorite order of playing or listening?





















MainlyMozartSD7 karma

I love ALL of those equally... but if I had to put some towards the back , I would say that the music of Performer/ composers Ysaye and Liszt don't quite measure up to other composers (for me)

HarcourtHoughton2 karma

As a composer myself, what can we learn from these different styles of concert performances?

Many of my pieces are definitely dependant on the way they are preformed, so how can we explore different orchestrstion/composition?

MainlyMozartSD3 karma

USE MORE STRINGS for now, and wind players with caution . (maybe in pairs, further away from the rest of the orchestra, and pointing their instrument bells away from each other

milljillianmill2 karma

Hi! Thanks for the AMA, I love reading through the responses. What would you recommend using to clean your violin and bow properly without harming them?

MainlyMozartSD1 karma

you're welcome. I would keep wiping up excess rosin with a clean soft cloth. wash your hands after and before every 20- to 30 mins of practicing- even just with fresh water and no soap unless you need to. if the black ebony fingerboard gets too sticky try a damp cloth, but always with the violin upside down on your lap. This way to excess water would ever fall on the varnish. Same with rubbing alcohol if you dare to use some on the ebony (it's ok, but not anywhere on the wood. only a drop or two on a cloth, and for the fingerboard and chin rest only. get the violin looked at professionally at least once a year to check the bridge, and get it cleaned...

Meckles942 karma

Do you need a producer?

MainlyMozartSD3 karma

personally? my projects are small and manageable for the time being... thank you!

catpaw_tappers1 karma

WOW I didn’t know drive-in concerts were an option, and as an LA resident I’m hoping to attend the next one, whenever that is! I love how your violin looks and am really interested in the craft of making instruments. How long have you had your violin? Was it handmade? What song do you play when you’re by yourself and want to get lost in the joy of making music?

MainlyMozartSD2 karma

I think you would enjoy a drive-in concert! yes- my violins are all handmade. I don't have a favorite number to play.... there are too many great compositions for violin. I do have hundreds of hours of music from memory in my head.. so I might play just about anything that pops to mind when I pick up the violin for fun