If you’re a person who looks for the silver lining in situations (in these times, it’s as effective a coping mechanism as any), you may have already noticed some “unexpected benefits” to staying at home all day every day. For many of my friends, it seems like they’ve used this time to become masters of meme curation, and I’m grateful for all the quiet “hehe’s” they give throughout the day.
My silver lining has been all the virtual reunions and reconnections I’ve had. Proximity and convenience has always had too big an influence in who I socialize with, and I’ve lost touch with so many friends. Just this week however, I had Zoom meetings with people I hadn’t seen since high school and people I haven’t seen since graduating Yale School of Music!
Collaborative streaming concerts have also given me the chance to reconnect with friends and family. Before Shelter In Place, I might have considered live-streaming on Facebook an over the top self promotion (a judgement limited to myself- I always enjoyed others’ livestreams). Now, livestream is my only stage, my only platform for performing, and it has fostered connections and check-ins with friends and family all over the world.
Last Saturday, I participated in an international livestream festival put on by Classical Revolution. Unlike previous livestreams, where all performers meet up on Zoom beforehand to stream from the same channel, this format had us use Facebook Livestream, and would share our video in the event page. While I missed the “virtual green room” hang, the direct stream to Facebook made it possible for more of my friends to watch.
For those who don’t have Facebook, however, I had to find another streaming platform. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find a way to make YouTube Live work, so I streamed to Twitch, the video game stream site. If anything were to be emblematic of the strange times, I’d choose the image of Dominican Sisters watching my Twitch stream from the convent at my former high school.
The stream itself was amazingly fun- comments and likes came in from friends and family all over! While this sort of connection pales in comparison to an in-person interaction, I found myself thinking about and talking to people I hadn’t seen in years. Suddenly, the excitement I felt in the first years of using social media (before the fatigue of overuse set in) came back, and I was hearing from people I sorely missed.
There were a couple frustrating elements to the stream however. It’s hard to fully concentrate as a performer while streaming because I feel like I need to keep an eye out for technical issues. Plus the constant pinging of notifications coming through in my peripheral vision was a distraction I’d never had to contend with in other performance arenas. I felt like I hadn’t performed to the best of my abilities, and struggled with whether to leave the video public on my Facebook page.
In the end, I left it up despite my reservations, but became determined to find a solution for future streams.
Several weeks ago, I called Felice Doynov, a friend from my year at Yale School of Music. I wanted to make a “Yale Alum” livestream with two goals: reform connections with former classmates and find a way to compensate the performers for their work. I had felt so much joy in previous livestreams that I wanted to help create that for others. Felice was really excited about the idea, and I knew with her help (she’s an arts administration extraordinaire) it would be amazing! We brought on Jon Salamon and Florrie Marshall who brought all their best ideas and resources to the table.
From the beginning, Felice made it clear that having the best possible sound quality was one of her main priorities. She proposed a new approach: to broadcast pre-recorded videos of performances. While I was reluctant at first to give up the thrill of live performance, I realized that the benefits far outweighed my reservations. I was further convinced when she proposed a “Meet The Artists” after party Zoom meeting to maintain the feeling of live connection with watchers.
In addition to fostering connections all over the world, our other core goal is compensating and supporting the work of fellow artists. At all levels of music performance, this is a time of huge uncertainty. We realized that performers must find ways to adapt to this prolonged period of underemployment by creating new arenas of work.
These two goals came together to create Home2Home, a series of concerts that will bring audiences into our homes for world-class performances. We seek the sense of fulfillment earned from being compensated fairly for our skills, and the connection we sorely miss from the collaborative art of music-making. Florrie Marshall has graciously taken on the project under the umbrella of her non-profit The Sound Bridges, so that all donated money will be tax deductible.
Our first concert will take place next Friday, April 24, and I couldn’t be more excited about the lineup, which includes a Concert Artist Guild Competition winner, two Carnegie Hall Fellows, and a Fulbright Fellow, Stay tuned for more info!