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Sounds in the shutdown

by Susie Rockett

As a working musician, my scheduled performances came to an abrupt halt this past March. I began preparing for the 2019-2020 season last August, and the loss of the last few concerts has involved a bit of a grieving period for me. I realize this feeling is not unique to my situation, we are all mourning the losses that COVID-19 has bestowed upon us. That being said, I have tried to embrace the changes, challenges, and opportunities that this time has provided us. As I pondered the idea that we would be without music, I was motivated more than ever as a performer to find a way to provide music to the masses. Music truly is a universal language, and the gifts it provides for each of us is unique and unquantifiable, particularly at a time when the idea of experiencing it in a live setting is so uncertain.

I was genuinely concerned about trying to present a livestreamed performance on June 14th with my colleagues the Key City Winds and our Collaborative Artist-in-residence, Abigail Payne, piano. Many things had to be thought through that had never really been a consideration before. How many musicians could safely play together? Where was the safest location for our performance? How little rehearsal time could we get away with to ensure the least amount of exposure? How far apart do we need to be and should we avoid playing in each other’s direction? The list went on and on as we were preparing for our short performance of Mozart’s Piano Quintet, but the moment we sat down to play together for the first time since the shutdown, it was all worth it. That moment left no doubt for me that we needed to work to keep live music alive!

I have done a lot of thinking recently about how to present the Heavenly Rest Chamber Music Concert Series this season. It is one of the greatest forms of outreach we do because it allows anyone who is interested in coming to a concert the opportunity to experience our space and the wonderful music provided at no charge. Instead of viewing this season as a potential loss of attendees it is honestly an opportunity to reach more listeners than ever before. With the advantage of livestreaming and recording our concerts we can involve as many people as we can get to click on our link. I’m hopeful that with physical distancing measures we can invite an audience, but even then, it won’t be the same numbers we are accustomed to. As a performer, I will have to get used to playing to a mostly empty room but know that there is much applause behind a screen in someone’s home.

These special concerts are possible because of our generous donors and those who contribute to keeping music alive at Heavenly Rest. You will receive information about our upcoming season in early August and information on giving to our Friends of Music program will be included. I sincerely hope that you will all take advantage of the musical offerings we make available at Heavenly Rest and click “share” or invite a friend to enjoy as well.

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