This past weekend I played my first concert since October 2019. At that time, I took a few months off for personal reasons. I returned right as the pandemic descended. My first concert was supposed to be March 14, 2020, one day after Covid was declared a pandemic.
From that moment, the pandemic and restrictions hit orchestras hard. This really impacted wind players since we don’t have the option to mask. Additionally, some wind instruments (e.g., trumpets) are particularly powerful for spraying aerosols. Definitely not ideal circumstances when we’re all trying to avoid an airbourne illness. Also, we usually sit close together so we can hear better to align our parts.
In the early days, people made a few creative attempts to rehearse over Zoom. I tried this a couple times. We basically all muted ourselves while the conductor blasted a recording and waved around to the score for us to follow along. I didn’t find this approach satisfying.
From that point on, everything was on and off for a couple of seasons. Until finally the moment was right to join again. Exactly two years from the last rehearsal, on March 9, 2022, I attended my first rehearsal with a new orchestra. My heart swelled along with my lungs puffing along to familiar show tunes. My eyes misted up playing along to a medley from “West Side Story.” I was back!
A week before the concert, I got covid. Once again my plans thwarted by the pandemic that has plagued so many of us. I had finished with the isolation period, but still had some fatigue and coughing. I’m sure nobody minded I sat out for that concert. However, I jumped back in for the next cycle, confident I was immune until at least the end of the season.
And so, I made it through my first concert in more than two years. We were a bit under rehearsed because the conductor got covid and we missed a week. More signs of the new covid “normal” included last minute changes in the orchestra due to illness or exposure and spaced out seating. At any rate, the show must go on. This time I was thrilled to be a part of it. It definitely wasn’t my most flawless performance, but I will remember the sensation of performing again after such a long break fondly. A real joy.