Two days before the state of emergency I managed to return home from my trip overseas, after events that had already left an indelible mark on my family and me. As if the major emotional trauma were not enough, all I needed was this crazy virus. So, from an already distressed normality, together with the rest of the world, I fell into this new (perhaps parallel?) reality in which people are dying, movement and activity are restricted, and we can communicate and move only through Skype and Zoom. Someone said the other day, Skype parties were not such a bad thing; you could bring together friends from all over the world that you never dreamed could be in the same place!
Paradoxically, or perhaps despite being condemned to social distancing, what I have in mind is the magic word solidarity – with the sick, with risk groups, confined senior citizens, with the heroes of these times: medical professionals around the world, with people who have lost their jobs, and especially with people involved with culture who are facing an uncertain future – a desire for communication, a desire to help somehow and do something!
It is easy for me and my colleagues, we have music to comfort us, to remove the unpleasant silence of quarantine and take us out of the twilight zone straight into our own inner world where things have not been moved or usurped. Practicing and playing renews us daily and gives us energy for the future. We are persevering and sticking it out.
It seems that music is constantly resonating in my home these days: listening to various contents planted in every corner of the Internet, playing (solo, or in a duet with my husband or even with our four-year-old son Miša!), online musical contacts, “rehearsals,” as well as giving harp lessons. I must not forget the neighbors who like to listen to the harp from their balconies, so for them I play everything I know, sometimes forgetting about what I need to practice.
But despite the fact that music is a cure for the soul, so is communication with others. Musicians are spiritually and financially dependent on the concert stage, and concert stages all over the world have been shut down, with no one really knowing when they would be reopened, or even what the post-Corona world would look like and whether we will rush to the music halls to listen to concerts or regard them with repugnance as hotbeds of infection?
We musicians are not much help to society – we cannot be in the front lines and treat the sick; what we can do is offer mental diversion through mutual communication in music.
But how can we do that in the present circumstances? What can we do to put forward our investment in solidarity?
For us and our profession, we need to adapt quickly and come up with new ways of communicating with our audience – some web research shows that musicians around the world have organized themselves very quickly. In whichever direction you turn – either toward social networking sites or websites of favorite music institutions – a huge array of online performances has already opened up. Yesterday, from the hall of the Berlin Philharmonic, I listened to a chamber concert by a trio of orchestra members (a phenomenal flute, viola, and harp trio!), I get daily invitations to entire festivals and concert series around the world, of all possible genres, organized so that musicians can play live from their homes for an online audience. Some associations organize online gatherings during which they sing together, and they are even starting with solidarity concerts in which rock bands play for medical staff… the list goes on.
It is very strange, no doubt about that; people usually play in their living rooms and you stare at the screen, there is no applause, the audience is invisible and inaudible, but it is certainly not unresponsive – comments abound! Although feedback and a live audience atmosphere is crucial for musicians, it seems that now we will have to create inspiration ourselves, with the help of personal archives of past concerts – not even close to being ideal, but still workable.
I do not know if we will help anyone in this way, but there is nothing else artists can do but imagine new worlds and give creative solutions – so this is how I imagine my solidarity and my need for communication in the time of Corona.