The great pianist Arthur Rubinstein once said that while touring around the world, he would often find himself in an empty studio or concert hall dryly and studiously practicing, but if even a single person walked into the room, he would suddenly start to really play. He and the music would come alive. It wasn’t possible for him to become “Rubinstein” without the presence of at least one live listener. I feel the same way.
Social distancing is tough; it’s unnatural. At a time like this, each of us is seeking out creative ways to connect, to form tighter bonds with family and community.
Scientists have shown that babies interpret the sound of their mother’s voice as music. To be human is to be a musician. And musicians are social animals. We thrive as a species because, for the most part, we enjoy each other’s company, up-close and personal. A story is a melody, and we love sharing stories with one another.
If you feel like a fish out of water at the moment, just think of how we label those who socially distance themselves: anti-social, loner, hermit, recluse. Similarly, humans with little music left in their voices might be characterized as speaking in a monotone, of being dry and lifeless. Among humans’ greatest needs and pleasures are music and social interaction; when both of these joys come together, whether attending a big stadium concert or simply singing together at an intimate church service or as a family in the car, we come a few steps closer to our very souls.
As the proverb goes, necessity is the mother of invention. For the first time in our lives, we’re abstaining from social interaction about town, movies on the silver screen, going out on dates, concerts, shows, sporting events, church services, school. And for most humans, big and small, it’s disorienting, even unnerving. Perhaps more than ever, music has the power to unite and bring hope.
It’s in this spirit that the Carolina Philharmonic and Sandhills Community College are launching a new concert series called LIVEstream at BPAC. Starting on Wednesday, April 1, once every three weeks through the end of May, I’ll be sharing a piano-centric concert from the stage of Owens Auditorium, with 600 empty seats. As much as for us to share and experience the joy of music, the idea is to come together for a few fleeting moments to experience the joy of community. So take a seat!
To tune in, simply visit www.carolinaphil.org and click on the play button. The live concert stream will begin at 7:30 p.m. for a 30-minute performance. There is also a link on the homepage to view the concert directly on YouTube, where you can view it in full screen, as well as post your comments and song requests. I’m really looking forward to connecting with you, live.
David Michael Wolff is the maestro of the Carolina Philharmonic.