The spring of 2020 brought calamitous societal changes: the first global pandemic in a century; the greatest economic crash since the depression nearly a century ago; the most widespread and sustained demonstrations for racial equity and justice since 1968: more than fifty years ago.
The changes to our lives and the implications for the future have been profound. So many aspects of our daily lives have been affected – and many have lost livelihood, and loved ones. Uncertainty about many aspects of society – about our daily lives and the weeks and months ahead – is the prevailing mood of our times right now.
This is challenging for all – and for musicians losing the opportunity to practice our social art, difficult indeed. I have followed the work of our colleagues at ACDA and been repeatedly impressed with the flow of deeply considered responses to the developing crisis, some of which has informed my own work as symphony administrator.
It has been my practice for several years now to take a respite from publishing my writing during the summer, as an annual period of rest and renewal. As I prepare to leave ChoralNet for the summer, I’d like to leave you with a thought.
Human experience can be roughly described as both social and existential. On one hand we are the most social of animals, with thousands of years of societies and civilizations to our name replete with all manner of interactions – and on the other hand each one of us has the opportunity to experience an individual depth and singular perspective, unique in the universe .
The social turmoil and demand for conscientious action incumbent upon each of us in response to the context of the three crises I detailed above will vary with each of us, and can easily overwhelm the second, existential aspect of our lives. Yet, if one is practicing social distancing, it seems clear that in this time it is important to tend to this side of our nature also.
Music can continue to nourish us through this time when we cannot practice it socially. Find a way or ways to continue to engage with music this summer! If singing with others is not possible, it may be time to feed your head and your heart through a new engagement with music in some unexpected way.
I wish you peace this summer – stay cool. I’ll be back on September 8.