Siege Diaries 6/12/2020


I knew that this kind of announcement was coming, but it doesn’t make it easier.

Today the Nashville Symphony, which gave me the wonderful privilege of hearing the Shostakovich 4th Symphony performed live last September, cancelled their 2020-21 season and laid off their entire staff.   The uncertainty of planning ahead in a world where we don’t quite know when or how large group gatherings will be possible was just too much for this medium-sized orchestra, so instead of forging ahead and then possibly bleeding themselves dry with cancelled performances, they decided to take the safer route and suspend operations for the year.

Meanwhile, other organizations are still hopeful.  The Royal Conservatory went ahead and announced their season this past week.  They book guest artists as well as concerts by Conservatory students, including the orchestra, and presumably, some version of classes will take place no matter what, and they will have income that is not tied to ticket sales.   The Toronto Symphony still has their season scheduled, as do many other major orchestras–although there are almost certainly going to be significant impacts in the fall, at the very least.

I know it’s coming.  It’s still not easy.

Yet at the same time, I’ve steeled myself already for these coming disappointments, and find myself wondering whether someone, somewhere, is thinking of more chamber concerts in larger halls, where we might be able to eventually spread out and still enjoy live music.  But if we get this kind of thing, it’ll be an unexpected pleasure.  I’m not counting on it.

For now, I have no lack of music in my life–some streamed online, some in my own collection of recordings. I can wait for it to be safe.  I’ll continue to support my local orchestras through this so that they can reemerge on the other end.  We are only three months in.  Some things will get harder. Some will get easier.  Others, we’ll just get accustomed to.

Today, there was more hope.  New cases dropping below 200 in Ontario for the first time since March.  Just four new cases were reported in Hamilton.  We’re still in “Phase 1” while much of the province outside of the Golden Horseshoe is moving to Phase 2, which allows hair stylists, restaurant patios, and museums to start opening, but the entire province was given leave today to allow distanced gatherings up to ten people and to start building “social circles” of up to ten close family or friends that you will be able to have closer meetings with exclusively.  For us, we might find a couple of friends we can loop in, but we do not have parents or children to worry about, and my husband’s only sister we only see a couple of times a year anyway–so there will likely be no giant rush to build our “circles”.  We might look to see whether we could meet with friends for some sort of outdoor physically distanced gathering.  We’ll see how it goes.

The real hope is to get into Phase 2, at which point we would feel less guilty about day tripping–and eventually, maybe an overnight “vacation” trip–to Kingston or Muskoka.  We don’t want to be “those people” who go to less-locked-down areas from areas that are bigger hotspots–even though we’re also not the sorts to then have huge parties or go swanning maskless through local stores.

But this morning, it was cool and sunny out just after 9 am when we walked our local trail.  We saw very few other people out, and after the high temperatures of the past couple of days, the pleasant temperatures were lovely.  The escarpment was lush and green, and birdsong was in the air–the best kind of live music I could hear on a late spring day.

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