What does connection mean as we shelter in place?

Week five of sheltering in place and, after an initial surge of productivity, I sometimes feel lost and unable to work in more than fits and starts. I have always worked out of my home office, so that part of my life hasn't changed. And yet, things have changed, and changed in significant ways. I am no longer spending evenings and weekends attending rehearsals and concerts. Scheduled performances and premieres of my work have been postponed. And although I’m finishing a commission, another was postponed indefinitely. On top of all of that, my worry about the world is heavier. Acknowledging this change, I have realized that connecting with each other in new ways has become not just nice, but actually essential.

When I'm asked how I'm doing and I tell people that I have had four premieres and a commission postponed, they often change the subject. It's ok. We have all suffered loss, read and heard of more loss, and we know there is more to come - although we cannot imagine what it will look like. We are overwhelmed. We are trying to stave off loneliness, grief, and fear on an unprecedented scale and we don't know how to do it.

Personally, I crave connection that taps into the loneliness and grief, but also fills me with hope and helps me move forward as an artist. This means Zoom! Since there are now two of us regularly working from home (my daughter who usually lives in Boston has joined me) we have a designated “Zoom Room” for meetings. For me, Zoom meetings include daily chats with three women who were a part of a weekly Scrum group (we set work goals), and weekly meetings with my co-working, artist entrepreneur group (we talk marketing), my 8-voice ensemble, Harmonia, and my choir, One Voice.

However, it’s not completely working for me. I need to say that I'm not ok. I really miss talking in person. And yet, it's also not that bad. I'm not on the front lines of COVID-19. I don't currently have a loved one in the hospital (although my dad recently came home from being in the IUC for a pneumonia-like condition).

One of my favorite authors, Maggie Nelson, says in Bluets, that "there is no hierarchy of grief." I agree, but it is still hard to say I am struggling when I really have little reason to struggle compared with other people.

I'm an optimist even though my husband likes to say I can be a pessimist. I tell him that maybe I am, more accurately, a realist. Many people have lost income. Musicians have lost rehearsals and concerts. Like others, as an artist, I have lost this way of being in the world and of creating meaning in my life. I miss singing, I miss concerts. I’ve realized that my inspiration for composing relies heavily on singing and hearing live music.

I told myself that if I shared my story, I would be able to dig back into work. And that may be true, but I may only still be able to work at half-speed and that's ok. Not singing three times a week, not attending performances -- it's hard. It is a loss. I'm reminding myself that all losses are worthy.

Yet, people are starting to think outside the box. I am thrilled to be connecting in a new way through a project with CorVoce vocal ensemble and their director Karin Barrett that continues the commissioning/premiere process we were planning with the poem "Kindness" by Naomi Shihab Nye. (More soon!)

Since we are missing concerts and live performances, I am sharing my video of "Sweet Radiant Mystery" and a brand new video of “The Flute of the Infinite" with you. They are not live performances, but I hope they bring you peace and joy. More videos soon!

Choir directors, you have my permission to stream these videos, and all my YouTube videos such as “Street Dance” in your worship services for FREE. Let me know about your performances so I can add them to my website calendar and give a shout out on Social Media!

Stay safe. Stay Connected. <3

Much love to you,

Catherine

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