Abby Young with the Nu Deco Ensemble
Photo credit: Alex Markow Photography
6 Classical Music Live Streaming Experiences To Ease Quarantine Anxiety
Classical music has been proven to ease anxiety. Several studies can attest to the genre's ability to lower blood pressure and stress, both of which are on the rise as society tries to adapt to the uncertainty and isolation brought on by the coronavirus pandemic. Thankfully, the classical community is hard at work trying to combat the negative effects of self-quarantine. Despite the hardships that musicians are facing during this time of social distancing, only seven percent of musicians are social distancing from their instruments as well, according to a poll conducted by violinist.com. Choral societies, opera companies and gig musicians alike are all making efforts to provide comfort to fans and listeners through live streams, podcasts, music lessons and more. Read on for six anxiety-melting classical music stories and experiences that you can immerse yourself in today.
1. Iconic opera singer Andrea Bocelli brings us "Music for Hope" from Milan
On Easter Sunday, renowned opera singer Andrea Bocelli gave a performance in the empty Milan Cathedral, Duomo di Milano. Bocelli's intent was to bring peace to those spending the holiday weekend alone and a sense of community to the world wherein 90 percent of people are engaged in social distancing—a third of which are under some level of government-enforced lockdown. The five-time GRAMMY-nominated vocalist called this 30-minute Concert "Music for Hope," as it included uplifting favorites like "Amazing Grace" and Bach's "Ave Maria." The performance, which received 17 million streams within the first four hours of being posted, can be watched in full on YouTube.
2. Yo Yo Ma expresses gratitude to healthcare heroes with "Songs of Comfort" series
Last month, GRAMMY-winning cellist Yo Yo Ma performed the heartwarming Sarabande from Bach's Cello Suite No. 3, dedicating the concert to healthcare workers on the frontlines. "Your ability to balance human connection and scientific truth in service of us all gives me hope," he wrote in a tweet. The Paris-born virtuoso continues this series of online performances entitled "Songs of Comfort" in hopes of bringing peace to those crippled with anxiety during these hard times. To experience more, follow #songsofcomfort on Twitter and Facebook.
3. Nu Deco Ensemble continues to pay its musicians and lead educational programs
Miami’s eclectic and genre-bending Nu Deco Ensemble (NDE), which has collaborated with GRAMMY-winning artists like Macy Gray and Jacob Collier, maintains its grind during these challenging times. In fact, they seem to know a secret that no one else does when it comes to keeping audiences connected and putting musicians first. We reached out to NDE Personnel Manager and violinist Abby Young, who spoke with us about the efforts behind NDE's continued perseverance amidst the hardships they face.
"When our performances were cancelled, our leadership asked patrons to donate the cost of their tickets instead of taking the refund, which we've turned around and used to pay our musicians," Young explains. The ensemble showed its gratitude by conducting live interviews over Instagram, giving their patrons an opportunity to interact with NDE conductor Jacomo Bairos and arranger Sam Hyken directly. "We wanted to give patrons an opportunity to learn more about them and their creative processes."
Nu Deco's musicians also participate in an educational program entitled Nu Deco NXT, which is committed to teaching and coaching high school students from the community. The program’s week-long spring break intensive was cancelled, but according to Young, the NXT leadership team quickly regrouped and arranged an alternative for the students: Saturday morning guided meditations over Zoom, followed by a different music lesson each week. Individual music instruction also continues through Zoom private lessons. "I am so proud of the steps Nu Deco has taken to protect our musicians and strengthen our organization, all while keeping our patrong and students engaged through these trying times," Young shares.
NDE is holding virtual "watch parties" to premiere newly released videos of past performances as a fun way for audience members and new fans to engage in a shared experience. To join in the fun, visit their Facebook or Instagram.
4. Houston Chamber Choir brings a sense of community with their biweekly podcast
As is the case for ensembles all across the nation, the distinguished Houston Chamber Choir was forced to cancel all concerts for the remainder of the season. Despite this misfortune, they are one of several choirs still seeking to provide people with the comfort and sense of community that comes from listening to choir voices singing in unison. The ensemble, which earned the GRAMMY for Best Choral Performance this year, is offering a podcast every Monday and Friday at noon CT entitled "With One Accord." Hosted by their artistic director Robert Simpson, the biweekly podcast presents favorite moments from past performances that are, as described on the choir’s website, "selected especially to bridge the isolation we are all feeling and to offer a moment of peace and comfort during these anxious days."
Other choirs taking part in the widespread effort to bring choral music to the ears of the isolated include GRAMMY-nominated ensemble Conspirare in their "All of Us" Virtual Choir Project and Monteverdi’s Choir & Orchestra.
5. Tarisio auctions off rare Instruments to raise money for struggling musicians
Tarisio Fine Instruments & Bows has launched an initiative called GiveBack, which is a benefit auction wherein all commissions will be donated to musicians around the world who have been affected by COVID-19. The total commissions of approximately $100,000 will be divided and distributed in the form of grants at $600 each, and any musician is welcome to apply. "As we navigate these unprecedented times, supporting our communities is essential," Tarisio Auctions Founder Jason Price states on the organization’s website. "Orchestras have been furloughed, contracts have been canceled, freelancers are left without work. We will do what we can to help." The catalog for this special sale will be posted online on April 15 and the auction will end on May 1. If you wish to contribute or participate, you can contact Tarisio directly or visit their website’s GiveBack page.
6. Manchester Collective invites us to their intimate "Live From Isolation" series
The Manchester Collective is dedicated to immersing viewers in unique live listening experiences, and it is clear that nothing—not even a pandemic—is enough to stop them. "Whether on the road or under lockdown, Manchester Collective are staying firmly committed to our mission to create unforgettable musical experiences for audiences all over the world," their website states. The U.K.-based ensemble remains hard at work producing exciting and ever-changing live online events in a series called "Live From Isolation" in which the ensemble’s musicians are performing intimate solo concerts from their living rooms to yours. Light a candle, grab a blanket and enjoy the sonic escape.
For those longing for more classical music escapes, visit Classic FM, New York Classical Review, or Livingroom Live. If you are a full-time musician whose career has been placed on hold as a result of COVID-19, organizations like Equal Sound and MusiCares have Coronavirus relief funds that you can apply for today.