I Can’t Do Anything About the Pandemic (Or Can I?)
It has doubtless not escaped you that we live in strange times.
For me personally, the pandemic has had little impact. My talks were delivered by Zoom and Microsoft Teams and my course went virtual.
But what about those who cannot ‘go virtual’?
What if your profession comes to a screeching halt? Do you simply throw in the towel and cry yourself to sleep?
Let me tell you the tale of one person who did not bow down. He has been an inspiration to me for decades and I will tell you more about why in a future column.
Benjamin Zander is the musical director of the Boston Philharmonic. The coronavirus shut down all orchestras cold. Musicians could not assemble on stages. Music lovers could not gather to hear them play.
It was the end of the road for Zander.
At least, it was for a while ’til his irrepressible spirit broke out.
Locked at home with time on his hands, he called some of his musician friends over and suggested having a performance on his front lawn.
They came and brought their own instruments with them. And had a fine time.
They did again. And again.
Soon they drew crowds of spectators. The state government frowned on this. It ruled that it was OK for Zander to conduct but not OK to have an audience.
So he started live streaming it on his Facebook account.
The online audience grew and soon the concerts were listened to avidly in 20 countries.
And Zander’s neighbors bonded together in a community. While I was speaking with him Adele Bacow, wife of Harvard President Lawrence Bacow, swung by to drop off some muffins. She waved me a cheery hello.
The son of the French ambassador to the United Nations was interested in music so Zander wrote him an explanation of Mahler’s Fourth Symphony. In the last movement a child wakes up in heaven to an abundance of food. Zander described how music is the most abundant food for the soul.
Normally he would not have had the time to do this. But now, thanks to the pandemic, he did.
The French couple told him later that their younger son, about six years old, listened to the story with rapt attention. And then he attended an entire concert without fidgeting. Zander is revising his notions of the age at which persons can appreciate music.
Where will the ripple effects of this impromptu adventure end?
But here is a question for you: What have you done to use the changes wrought by the pandemic to spread sweetness and light?