Community and Covid
It’s been very gratifying to see how the musical community has reacted to the COVID-19 crisis in order to continue bringing joy to people’s hearts and minds. As would be expected, online venues offer the best mechanism for making this happen, and I anticipate looking at the various platforms each day to find out how my fellow aficionados are collaborating and contributing to bring beauty to the world during this most difficult of times.
Making music—from performing to practicing to composing—is an experience that is enormously difficult to maintain in the absence of a supportive community. I never anticipated that when my spring break began in mid-March that I would not be returning to UNCSA within a week, yet here I am some six weeks or so out putting in my five or so hours of practice in today on my home instrument absent my conservatory friends physically coming into my practice room to chat, listen, and offer advice. As a pianist it’s now much different than it was for me when I played violin and not only had to focus on my own personal repertoire but nearly daily orchestral practice as well, yet there was always something about performing music together that strengthened everyone’s resolve and despite our time challenges always inspired us to play our best.
Nearly every summer venue—from Meadowmount to Chamber Music on the Hill to a friend’s much anticipated orchestral trip to Vienna—has understandably been canceled. Sad though understandable and completely necessary considering the times. Incoming information as we get more information about this virus makes it clear that we are just beginning to grasp the long term medical and societal consequences associated with this pandemic, and so extreme caution must reign supreme.
And yet, I mourn the lost performance opportunities, the opportunity to interact with world-class musicians both at UNCSA and at Meadowmount this summer, and, much more simply, just the camaraderie of being with passionate artist friends every day with no clear time frame of when this will all end and how it will change society in general and the performance landscape in particular. Then I am struck by the realization that, having stayed COVID-free so far, such concerns pale against those who are fighting the virus and/or have lost loved ones to it.
Social media seems to have been invented in anticipation of these challenging times, and I along with other musicians have utilized it to try to stay connected and bring happiness to others. I am grateful to my IG fans and am trying (fighting a broken piano string!) to maintain my pace of a once-a-week post while at the same time liking and therefore supporting the IG art of my friends. I’m also in the process of arranging a summer chamber experience (the Rach 2 D Minor Trio) with two friends who are marvelous musicians; we are looking towards a July date hoping that the crisis will have sufficiently abated to allow us to meet and perform online if nothing else.
And so to all my friends out there in the musical universe perhaps feeling isolated I’d say this: don’t let down on your practice, stay connected, and plan optimistically for a future where we can perform together again, attend each other’s concerts, and enjoy the same collaborative experiences that we did before that push us all to become better. From the looks of what’s happening online, we’ve collectively made a pretty solid start!