NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — It was a long-awaited night in the Big Apple. Carnegie Hall and other performing arts venues reopened after being shut down since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“After 572 days, it gives me the greatest joy to say welcome back to Carnegie Hall,” said Clive Gillinson, the executive and artistic director of the famed concert venue told fans on Wednesday night.

Cheers and the sound of music filled the hall, after nearly 19 months of silence and darkness.

“It has been like a desert for the last year and a half, so to be able to be together and have a live experience, we’re just thrilled,” spectator Peggy Kane told CBS2’s Jenna DeAngelis.

“It feels like a dream come true,” Shirley Kirshbaum added.

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Yannick Nézet-Séguin, Yuja Wang and the Philadelphia Orchestra were the first performers at the hall since the March 2020 shut down, and they started with new work titled “7 O’Clock Shout.”

The piece by Valerie Coleman was inspired by the 7 p.m. cheering citywide each night at the height of the pandemic, in honor of the front-line workers.

The opening night gala concert also included works by Bernstein and Beethoven.

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When the performance ended, people DeAngelis spoke to were smiling ear to ear.

“It was unbelievable. There was such energy, such electricity there,” said Kevin Rakin of Westport, Connecticut.

“It was phenomenal. It was so joyous. Everyone was so excited,” added Jennifer Cohen of Connecticut.

“It was just nice to be live and be surrounded and Carnegie Hall is just a beautiful place,” added Simone Rothman of Gramercy.

A live audience also returned Wednesday night to Symphony Space on the Upper West Side.

It was a night that was a long time coming for the city that deserved a standing ovation.

Carnegie Hall is planning 100 concerts this season, which is down from 150 before the pandemic started.

Jenna DeAngelis