An orchestral NFT? Dallas Symphony, Metropolitan Opera musicians lean in to the trending technology

NFTs, or non-fungible tokens, continue to gain traction in the world of classical music.

The Dallas Symphony Orchestra has released an NFT commemorating the historic performances of Mahler’s First Symphony by members of the DSO and Metropolitan Opera Orchestra at the Meyerson Symphony Center in the spring. The concerts were led by DSO music director Fabio Luisi, who worked seven seasons at the Met, six as principal conductor.

NFTs turn pieces of digital art or other collectibles into unique, verifiable assets. They have spiked in popularity during the pandemic, with artists raking in staggering sums online. In March, American graphic designer Mike Winkelmann, who goes by Beeple, sold an NFT art collage for $69 million at Christie’s auction house.

The DSO is offering its NFT in three tiers:

  1. Audio of the last movement of Mahler’s First Symphony and photos of the musicians and performances. 25 available at $100
  2. Videos of the symphony’s first movement and interview with Fabio Luisi, as well as a ticket to a chamber music concert in New York City in 2022 featuring members of the DSO and Met Opera Orchestra. 15 available at $1,000
  3. Video of the full concert, behind-the scenes footage and a VIP experience at the NYC reunion concert including dinner with the musicians, airfare and two nights’ accommodation. Opening bid: $50,000

The tiers are available for purchase on the online platform, Rarible, using the cryptocurrency Ethereum.

All proceeds will go to Met Opera musicians, who were furloughed without pay for almost a year during the company’s pandemic-caused shutdown. Some were forced to move out of NYC or consider selling their beloved instruments, according to The New York Times. The Met is seeking pay cuts from the musicians before the start of its fall season.

This isn’t the first such project in the D-FW area. The Verdigris Ensemble, Dallas’ enterprising choir, reported bringing in over $375,000 at online auction with an NFT of American composer Nicholas Reeves’ Betty’s Notebook in May.

Dallas Symphony Orchestra music director Fabio Luisi, bottom-left, conducts members of the DSO and the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra in Mahler's Symphony No.1 in D Major, Friday evening, April 30, 2021 at the Morton H. Meyerson Symphony Center in Downtown Dallas. The special concert benefitted the MET Orchestra Musicians Fund and the Dallas-Fort Worth Musicians COVID-19 Relief Fund.
Dallas-based Verdigris Ensemble is creating a blockchain art version of their production of "Betty's Notebook" which uses music and found sound to tell a story about the disappearance of American aviator Amelia Earhart. For the digital art version of the project, artist Bryan Brinkman created these illustrations.
Dallas-based Verdigris Ensemble performing "Betty's Notebook" at the Texas Theatre in Oak Cliff in 2019.
Jeremy McKane, 44, poses in front of two representations of his NFT creations inside the One Arts Plaza building in Downtown Dallas in May.
In this photo illustration, Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban (photo: Louis DeLuca, Jan. 12, 2013) is pictured with "Nyan Cat", a viral sensation created by Plano resident Chris Torres in 2011.
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