Not too many days ago (or it might have been years) I talked about the music on my island.
There is always music in my life, whether it is playing on a speaker or I am creating it myself. One of my responses to the humdrum of the lockdown has been to sing more (and snarl less). But I also complained that singing for myself is a lonesome thing.
I am thrilled to report that arts and performance have overcome even isolation. Credit where it is due, the most prominent music has come from clever televised programs such as Sir Elton John’s and James Corden’s, where remote cameras brought intimate performances direct from artist’s homes. The performances served not only to entertain, but to reinforce that even celebrities are affected by this crisis and that even they are complying with the sensible restrictions that communities have imposed.
Even before those specials aired, the grassroots elements had brought performance to the forefront. Artists professional and amateur have delivered performances either recorded as rehearsals or more recently as brilliantly conceived online collaborations (the magic of the Zoom revolution). There have been choirs, string quartets, jazz bands and a whole raft of other collaborative efforts presented on Facebook (and I presume other social media which I frequent less).
This weekend, we were even treated to the Bard, as theater artists-in-exile from Elon University Performing Arts presented Hamlet At Home, possibly the first socially distanced performance in history of the immortal play. The young actors were courageous and inspired, with spirited and moving performances across the board. The pacing, for a distantly acted show, was amazing – a magnificent exercise in anticipatory acting. And I love the thought of Hamlet’s father’s ghost stopping to sign in to Zoom before commencing his haunting. There is a short story in that scenario, to be sure. The recording of this marvelous production is available at Elon Performing Arts. (Special thanks to dear friend Grace for bringing the show to my notice).
For sheer simple loveliness, I give a shoutout to my dear friend and singing buddy, Will Mc, who has nightly ukulele singalongs on this medium. He is now seventeen or eighteen half-hour livecasts in, and he brings a homey simplicity to his parlor performance that is both inviting and transcending. The anodyne of his mixture of old favorites and original pieces from his brilliant cabaret career is a wonderful reminder of the humanity of the world. It will take more than closed doors and physical distancing to stop the music.
[This Post was adapted from a essay originally published on Facebook the day listed above]