As we continue another week of lockdown on both sides of the Atlantic, I find myself reflecting on what has sustained people around the world during the last month and a half.
With the artifice of commercialism eroded and the primacy of economic growth temporarily set aside, it is very clear that the people and professions that have been devalued in modern life are the ones truly holding society together – care and health workers, teachers, full-time parents, grocery and sanitation workers, those who dedicate their lives to the charity and volunteer sectors, courageous independent journalists, corner shop owners, makers, creators, and givers.
We have been reminded that the handwritten letter has a broader value than the email, that our own simple home cooking can be far more nourishing than the easy takeaway, and that the cleanly engineered commercial recording can never replace the raw and vulnerable act of live performance.
I’m immensely proud to be a member of the performing arts community, and to have witnessed the way our sector has found ways to take a period of catastrophic professional upheaval, and use it fruitfully – to devise creative activities for people struggling with loneliness in their homes, to embrace new technologies for making and sharing our work, and to document this defining moment in history so that it can be more sensitively understood by future generations.
We have shown ourselves to be servants to our communities in ways that far exceed our role as entertainers. Costume departments in opera houses have donated their expertise and resources to sewing vital personal protective equipment for frontline workers; orchestra and concert hall transport departments have sent their trucks and drivers to assist with food parcel delivery; we have provided the means for people to unite through music across the two-metre social-distancing gap, the streets we live on, and the globe.
At Symphony Nova Scotia, we knew that we wanted to use the time to focus on the needs of those closest to us, and do work that would be of practical use in our province. To that end, we are producing innovative and one-of-a-kind educational resources to support cross-curricular teaching at home; we are providing specialist help to young musicians while they are separated from lessons, instruments, and youth ensembles; we are making support material for community and school music leaders to help them use this time for professional development; and we have taken software designed for board meetings and repurposed it for violin lessons, choir rehearsals, chamber music recordings, concert streaming, and musicological research.
The careful and caring governance of our CEO Chris Wilkinson and our Board of Directors has ensured that the people of our organization – staff, musicians, donors, volunteers, and audiences – are valued above the artifacts of our work, ensuring that we will emerge as a vital and thriving organization at the end of this, rather than a museum display.
But our ability to not just navigate through this period, but to really utilize the time to channel our expertise and energy positively into the lives of our community, is also contingent upon your support. Every message you send to the office, every monetary donation, and every share of our posts on social media are valuable beyond measure, and strengthen our ability to plan sensibly and thoughtfully for the future of your orchestra.
I wholeheartedly invite you to join me in making this Tuesday, May 5 one in which we celebrate those who do their work outside of the trappings of capitalism, those who make and grow locally, and those whose work and generosity transforms our lives, and the lives of our families and neighbours. #TogetherWe will make music again. Donate to Symphony Nova Scotia this #GivingTuesdayNOW.
With my very best wishes,
Music Director, Symphony Nova Scotia