Dallas Symphony Orchestra

How the Dallas Symphony Orchestra is Using NFTs to Help the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra Musicians

The three-tiered NFT offering of May concert went on sale July 28 on Rarible’s website

Dallas Symphony Orchestra Met Opera Orchestra May 2021
Kim Leeson

A historic collaboration has been transformed into a momentous innovation. On July 28, the Dallas Symphony Orchestra (DSO) released a three-tiered NFT (non-fungible token) offering on the blockchain, commemorating its pandemic-era concert with members of the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra. The proceeds of the sale will benefit the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra musicians.

The musicians of the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra found themselves without work beginning March 12, 2020, when the world-renowned opera company closed because of the pandemic. The Metropolitan Opera currently plans to reopen for live performances September 27 with Terrence Blanchard’s Fire Shut up in my Bones. The closure is the longest in the opera company’s history.

Fabio Luisi, the DSO’s Music Director, served as the opera company’s principal conductor for more than five years. The DSO started performing for live audiences last fall and Luisi wanted to help his musical colleagues in New York.

“During my time with the Metropolitan Opera, I became close to many of the members of the orchestra. It is devastating that these incredible musicians have not had an opportunity to perform together in over a year. Sadly, this is the case for many musicians around the country, and many have been affected so greatly by this reduction of income,” Luisi said. “I urged the DSO to find a way to gather musicians together to make music in a way we have not heard in more than a year as a symbol of solidarity.”

The musicians of the DSO invited 50 musicians of the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra to perform Mahler’s First Symphony at the Meyerson Symphony Center, led by Luisi. The DSO raised funds to bring the musicians to Dallas, pay them a week’s salary as well as present a series of master classes and chamber music performances.

DSO Metropolitan Opera Orchesta Musicians May 2021
Kim Leeson
Safety protocols did not diminish the power of the May concert.

The May concert featured one of the largest orchestras to perform in over a year. For the non-DSO musicians, the concert was the first opportunity to perform for a live audience since the pandemic shutdown. The Dallas audience was masked and socially distanced.

It was a powerful experience. “Our time with the Met Opera Orchestra Musicians was inspiring, emotional and full of memories that we all will hold dear for a very long time,” Kim Noltemy, DSO Ross Perot President & CEO, said. “It was our honor to have welcomed our colleagues to Dallas and into our home for this historic concert.”

The New York Times called the concert “One of the most dramatic musical coups of the pandemic…The filmed result is fresh, vivid and cumulatively quite moving.”

That filmed version of the concert became the basis of the NFTs, now “minted” and available for sale on the web site of Rarible, a top-ranked, community-centric marketplace for NFTs.

The DSO is not the first Dallas area arts organization on the blockchain. Verdigris Ensemble released a multi-part NFT of Betty's Notebook this spring. The three layers and master version of the choral piece sold for more than $375,000 in May.

"What blockchain has once again proven is that its providing a new asset class for classical music organizations. The Dallas Symphony Orchestra is taking a bold step into a new world, and I hope that more classical music organizations follow suit," Sam Brukhman, Verdigris Ensemble's artistic director, said.

The DSO’s offering includes:

  1. Audio of the final movement of Mahler's First Symphony and exclusive photos of the musicians and the performances. 25 available at $100
  2. Video of 1st movement, interview with DSO Music Director Fabio Luisi, a ticket to the reunion concert featuring collaborative chamber music in New York City in early 2022. 15 Available at $1000
  3. Video of the full concert, behind-the scenes footage including rehearsal footage, interviews, and features. Plus, the NFT buyer VIP experience at the reunion concert including dinner with the artists, roundtrip airfare from another U.S. City and two nights of hotel. Opening bid: $50,000

Months after that profound musical encounter, one orchestra is harnessing the power of technology to continue helping another orchestra. “The collaboration with the Dallas Symphony Orchestra marks a significant milestone in our journey to take NFTs mainstream and to reach new audiences,” Alex Salnikov, Head of Product & Co-founder of Rarible, said. “Like so many, the musicians of the Met Opera Orchestra were affected by the shut-down. This NFT is a true testament to the value NFTs can generate for artists and creators by creating new streams of revenue.”

Learn more: rarible.com/dallassymphony

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