Readers in the UK will today be preparing for an adjustment to their lives likely not experienced before – certainly not in recent peace time. Those elsewhere in the world will likewise be facing similar or even more drastic degrees of challenge and change, from severely curtailed lives, to finding themselves confined to and isolated in their homes. All of us will be worried about the health of people known to us, or near to us. We’ll all have different roles we can play – and never underestimate the importance of even the smallest thing, a friendly word, an offer of help – during this time of disruption and concern. People who have found themselves increasingly living in segmented and transient societies are rediscovering the kindness, comfort and necessity of community.
The music world has always been a community. Drawing artists and audiences from around the world together in shared experiences and projects, the performances it offers have always been greater than the sum of the parts. That’s what makes music so special, and such a powerful force in all our lives. That the concert halls are closed and the opera houses empty, just at a time when people most need the spiritual sustenance – or, not forgetting that music can be simply fun, the joy! – of music is a necessary effect of the nature of the threat. It’s a sad irony that our next issue of Gramophone, sent to the printers last week and shortly to reach subscribers, contains a packed festival guide featuring many events which will sadly not now happen (though many that still may – the festival season stretches far into the year!). But if the impact on our lives as listeners is significant, it’s more so for the many artists – largely self-employed – and organisations who will be facing financial uncertainty as their work, and income, simply stops. We keep them all in our thoughts at this time, and our eyes open for ways to show support.
But the music plays on. As a recorded music magazine, it seems an obvious point to make that the commitment of musicians to leaving legacies of artistic excellence on record has rarely been as relevant than at such a moment as this. Whether your music library sits on a shelf, or lives in the cloud, the 21st century offers an access – instantly – to music that would have been unfathomable just a short while ago. And undaunted, around the world, ensembles and organisations are keeping live performances going – in closed concerts, from their living rooms – and broadcasting them online. That too would have been unfathomable to generations past. We’ve been keeping track of some of them here – but if you know of any inspired or inspiring events we should add, please get in touch.
Finally, our readership too has always been a community. We may not meet in person, but we meet in our pages, month after month, and will continue to do so. If the post proves to be a little late in the issues ahead, I know you’ll let us off (though there should be no such delay with our digital edition of course!) – we’ll get there.
But in the meantime, my very best wishes to you all. Take good care of yourselves.