A Regional Czech Orchestra’s Inadvertent Glimpse Into the Lives of Music Lovers Stuck at Home

Since February, the Hradec Králové Philharmonic has been refunding subscriptions for another canceled season. Life without live concerts is especially hard for those who do not use the internet.

Many of the orchestra’s season subscribers have been refunded, but a large proportion of them do not have email addresses and must be reached by phone. The orchestra’s staff has been working its way through their subscriber list and calling the ones without email addresses, to ease the refund process.

These phone calls have yielded not only the necessary information to return subscription money, but also insight into the lives of regular concert goers, some of whom are eager to share their stories.

When asked how she was doing, one subscriber responded: “I feel like a princess locked in a tower.” The older woman’s humorous response hid a sad truth. Another concert goer said she became a great-grandmother during the pandemic but hadn’t been able to see her great-grandchild except in photos. Such stories are common.

It’s not uncommon for the orchestra staff to reach concert goers in their gardens and summer houses. Others, however, are at home and don’t, or can’t, leave the house. The saddest calls are the ones during which a staff member learns that the subscriber has passed.

Hradec Králové orchestra staffers say they often exchange words of support with their patrons, along with wishes of firm health, and expressions of hope that everyone will be able to meet again in the concert hall.

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