Mother Nature is unpredictable, as WQXR was reminded last summer in a broadcast of the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra in Central Park. Heavy rain arrived halfway through a Haydn symphony and musicians and station recording engineers were forced to pack it in quickly. Of course, outdoor summer concerts present many hazards: relentless mosquitoes, noisy airplanes, chatty audiences, and stages baked by the afternoon sun. Bad weather can also lead to substandard performances, with wayward intonation and unfocused playing. It can occasionally be dangerous for players and their instruments (varnish on string instruments turns sticky; seams can come unglued). Last year, the New York Philharmonic performed only half of a concert at Van Cortlandt Park in the Bronx due to the heat, and the crowd got ugly, booing and chanting "We want Dvorak."
Despite these challenges, many orchestras say the concerts absolutely necessary. In this podcast we look at the challenges of al fresco performing with these th