This article appeared in the October 26, 2020 edition of the Monitor Daily.

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Live music slowly revives its role: To connect and inspire

Mary Altaffer/AP
Viola player Robert Rinehart sets up to perform at Betty Carter Park in Brooklyn, New York, Oct. 2, 2020. The NY Phil Bandwagon has been offering impromptu chamber music concerts as part of the New York Philharmonic’s Fall 2020 activities.
Clayton Collins
Director, editorial innovation

Music has those “charms to soothe.” What a welcome attribute in times like these

Performers of live music, suppressed by the pandemic, are finding responsible new ways to connect and uplift even with venues shuttered..

A Brooklyn sidewalk ensemble plays Brahms for enchanted passersby. The Avett Brothers sing for a drive-in-distanced audience at the Charlotte Motor Speedway – also taking a lap, to cheers, in an old Plymouth Roadrunner. The Flaming Lips, performance pioneers, try extending their long-running plastic-bubble motif by encasing some audience members

Interplay is the driver, and it’s a two-way kick. Many bands – not just jam bands – use crowd input to shape each show. 

Stephen Humphries, the Monitor’s chief culture writer, calls this a “communion.” Stephen’s a concert devotee. (He and I have tickets for a David Crosby show that got bumped from last June to this coming one.) 

“There's a whole different dynamic when a band is playing live,” he says. He recalls a pre-pandemic concert at which Canadian indie-pop singer Feist began exchanging bird calls with his wife as Feist teased an avian-themed song. 

It was one of several points, Stephen says, at which “the sheer beauty of the music made me feel as if I was levitating.

“That kind of feeling – which, in normal times, people around the world experience every night at live shows – can't be replaced.” 

We wave our virtual lighters and embrace its cautious return.


This article appeared in the October 26, 2020 edition of the Monitor Daily.

Read 10/26 edition
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