Every Monday on our website, you can read our musicians’ experiences and tips on how to best spend your time in this lockdown. We begin this series of blogs with the story of our hornist Nikola Ćirić, who faced the coronavirus threat twice – first in China and then in Serbia.

I first encountered the coronavirus in mid-January when I was in Beijing. Before leaving for Serbia for my vacation, I noticed that the situation in China had been getting worse and people were frightened. On January 23, the day Wuhan went into total lockdown, I flew to Serbia thinking that China would resolve the virus problem by the time my holiday ended, around the Lunar New Year or March 1st. No one thought the situation would turn out the way it did.

Like all other people, philharmonic musicians have to adapt their lives to the new situation. The concert season is currently on hold, all other activities have been suspended and we are suddenly left with empty schedules. On the one hand, it is a bad thing, but on the other hand, it is a great opportunity for us to do some introspection, to turn inward and face ourselves when we cannot get together with our friends, and to read all the books we did not have time for because of our busy schedules.

I planned out my self-isolation by turning the living room into a game room and my armchair occupying the central place in the room. I play video games whenever my “serious work” gets boring (well, much more often than that).

I often meet with Dostoyevsky – I have used this opportunity to have a proper conversation with the man because I have been arranging to meet him for a long time but it just never worked out. He tells me sensible things and is almost always right. I have coffee with Mozart and Strauss; they improve my intonation … well, I mean, my mood. Yesenin reads me his poems and we have become good friends. I must admit that I have not sat and chatted in such good company for a long time. The only real person I talk to is my girlfriend Vanja. We have been taking this opportunity to get to know each other better and talk about what is going on, commenting on the news and trying to watch only as much as necessary; we watch TV series and play video games.

I want to take this opportunity to tell you that panic is Serbia’s biggest enemy, after catching a draft, of course. Joking aside, beware of panic more than the virus itself. Ventilate the area you live in. When you do not have to go out – do not go out. The Chinese have fought off the virus in just over 2 months with serious discipline.

This literally depends on us – arm yourselves with positive energy, eat light food – life will come back after the lockdown one has to fit into one’s concert attire. Dive into yourselves and discover much deeper and more beautiful worlds than the one that is currently around us. Listen to beautiful music, pour yourselves a glass of wine, and spend time with all those friends on your bookshelf who have left us important messages on how to live our lives.

And don’t worry. When all this is over, we will play for you even better, and together we will appreciate even more the hugs we are missing so much now!