The Silent Season

I’ve been playing music for most of my life. Playing music, for me, is largely a social experience. Despite having spent hours and hours practicing alone, the hours spent making music with others are the ones I remember most. I’m accustomed to dedicating at least one night a week to orchestra rehearsals. This time is sacred in my schedule and non-negotiable. I also block off weekends, and some week nights, throughout the year for performing.

Rehearsing and performing has been part of my life for decades. It felt odd to go through the “silent season” last year. In 2020, the pandemic hit the day before a concert. My orchestra was in the middle of auditioning new conductors. For the audition, each short-listed candidate had six rehearsals and the performance. I was on the selection committee. All the committee members spent hours reviewing and interviewing candidates to arrive at the short list. The timing of the pandemic put an abrupt end to the process and one of my personal lifelines.

Each week I looked forward to rehearsal night. It was a chance to recharge and do something that I love. Normally, we start rehearsing at the end of August until the end of May. I have a number of close “orchestra” friends that I’m fond of seeing every week. Sometimes I see them more than my other friends. I’m usually ready for a few weeks off at the end of the season. But by the end of June, I’m feeling eager to play and lonely for the musical camaraderie. This cycle is built into my natural rhythm. At least it was until the pandemic.

For maybe the second year in a row, I’m facing the possibility of another “silent season.” People coordinated Zoom rehearsals and online playing last season, but it’s not the same. The orchestras I used to play with have been hard at work trying to figure out how we can make music again, safely. And even more importantly, how we can attract an audience to fund the orchestra. I play a wind instrument so masking isn’t an option. Some distancing is possible, though there are limits.

It seems as though we may have to endure for one more season. In the meantime, I’ve been encouraging my family to play music and learn instruments so I’m not lonely playing only for myself.

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