How do we stay sane with all the choas around us?
The list of can’ts is long and we have never imagined such a world. Travel is heavily restricted, theatres, concert halls and cinemas are closed for stretches at a time and social distancing measures have to be adhered to.
Artists are finding it increasingly difficult to work and perform and the experience of performing to live audiences has become rare.
For now we hope, re-invent ourselves and find new ways of connecting with each other through the arts.
When a number of international artists together with the Maltese Ambassador for Culture, Lawrence Renes, arrived in Malta to work on the magnificent production Written on Skin, it soon became apparent this could not happen despite having been planned for over two years. Sections of the orchestra started to be quarantined and there was to be no opera.
Renes describes the days of production as “an intense two weeks of navigating highs and lows”. But times of crisis present opportunity.
Instead of them all going home and leaving nothing behind, the singers, conductor, pianist and stage director came together with the VCA and created something that is made for our times. The eclectic programme spans from Dowland and Gibbons to Bernstein. It also includes Britten’s Serenade for tenor, horn and strings.
Rehearsals continued and due to local restrictions, preparations were made to record everything for national television. With most of the programme recorded on the first evening, which was originally meant to be the first show, only the Serenade was left to record on the last evening. Unfortunately, another orchestra member tested positive which meant another programme change had to be made. Rob Murray, together with Alphonse Cemin and Ben Davis “heroically” saved the programme with quickly putting on Britten’s first Canticle. “We as artists always perform so in a way not much changes,” Renes says. “In these times, even more so, we artists are the first responders of the soul therefore I think it’s very important that concerts take place and that people experience art as it’s so much needed”.
Without art it’s very difficult to heal the wounds in our souls, expand the horizons, feel hope and joy – feelings that are not easy to experience in these times.
Musicians are so happy to be able to make music when most have barely performed in a year. So, despite the initial disappointment, coming together to make music felt “special” and the right thing to do. Songs of Hope was born from the joy of making music together and will be broadcasted on TVM on the 1st May at 21:00.