Dear friends and colleagues,
I write from Scotland to send my very best wishes to you all in this cataclysmic time – I hope you and your loved ones are keeping in good health and positive spirits.
It’s been heartening to see a global celebration of creativity and self-expression helping communities get through this first week of isolation and upheaval, and I’m sure it will only become an even more vital tool in helping people deal with the anxiety, grief, and loneliness we might face in the coming months. When you do this as a job, it’s easy to forget the immediacy and power of the arts to give solace, inspiration, and energy.
It recently dawned on me and my husband Jon that we really could be facing a very different definition of what it is to make music for a living, when we emerge on the other side. The global professional arts community, like many industries, is in financial and structural freefall, with major organizations throughout the world having to dramatically reassess their futures. It is unsettling for all of us in the industry, but it also has a huge impact on our community members, for many of whom concerts are an essential part of their social and emotional wellbeing.
I cannot give enough thanks to those of you who have donated back the value of your remaining tickets for this season to Symphony Nova Scotia, helping to sustain your orchestra through this difficult time. Your generosity is an incredible testament to Nova Scotians’ deep commitment to the arts in your community. We have all been awed and humbled by your kind and thoughtful support, and we know that with your help, we can come through this together. To learn more about how you can support your orchestra through these coming weeks and months, click here.
In the meantime, our team at Symphony Nova Scotia has been pooling our resources and compiling great ways for you to keep enjoying the arts from home while you wait it out – there are a plethora of international companies opening their concert, opera, and ballet streaming services for free, and I’ve started making playlists on Spotify for life in the era of COVID-19. We’ll be putting different lists up over the weeks, including one to help assuage anxiety, one to give you energy for keeping up with housework, and, if you need a break from classical music, my favourite indie rock road trip playlist. It feels a shamefully small and insignificant gesture, but feel free to tune in or share it with those in your family or community who need distraction or entertainment – and please do send me your suggestions!
Keep an eye on the orchestra’s social media channels to see the links as we add them, and please do find me on there too; I’d love to hear from you over the coming weeks. I’m on Twitter and Instagram: @hollyjmathieson and you’re welcome to get in touch by email through the Symphony Nova Scotia office, if you’d like contact from abroad.
I’d also encourage you to find some time to MAKE music – dust off your instrument, give those vocal folds a massage, dance around the kitchen, and have some fun! Jon and I are keeping music in our lives by taking turnabout to choose one piece of music we don’t know – any genre – to listen to by the fire each night, and I might even brush the cobwebs off my old piano pieces…
With my sincere wishes and in anticipation of seeing you all again very soon,
Music Director, Symphony Nova Scotia