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The Week of the Coronavirus… and Birdsong

Posted by Sandra Wood on 23 March 2020

Probably like a lot of you, I haven’t been sleeping that well. Writing this on the Sunday of the week when we had to close the shutters of More Music to our sessions, I woke this morning at 5 once more. To the sound of birdsong. A moment of nature’s music breaking through after a tumultuous few days.

It certainly has not been the kind of week to fill an Artistic Director’s heart with song. None of us get in to this to be turning audiences away or stopping opportunities for taking part in music. But it became clear to us as that we could not keep open, days before the Prime Minister ordered public meeting spots to close.

This and a major shift to home working has brought about the kind of transformation it takes an organisation with vast resources months to do, really in the matter of 72 hours. The More Music team have been phenomenal at a time which has been very stressful. We all have loved ones that we are concerned about too. So bear with us while we adjust.

Much of the discussion was genuinely agonising. We work with many vulnerable groups, and our music leaders can often see hundreds of people in a week during the course of their work. What we do is the opposite of any social distancing or isolation. Which is why we are genuinely worried about groups like the over 60s singing Seagull Café, which was set up to combat isolation. And not everyone has Internet access, let alone Zoom or Hangouts or the other tools that are suddenly everyday part of our working.

At times like this it’s almost impossible not to sound glib. We are acutely aware of the bigger picture. Thousands have lost their lives world-wide. The waves of this will last for some time to come. Talking to colleagues across the arts in a video meet on Friday, there is a very real possibility that some venues that shut their doors this week will not open them again.

But music will come again. Each night brings a dawn chorus. There will be a lot to rebuild, and hopefully, better. And community, inclusive art will play its part – bringing people together – ending isolation.

And a lyric from the ‘Song for Clougha’ for the These Hills Are Ours project we have been part of echoes in my mind:

At last when I emerge into a world of vivid green

I breathe and let the skyline guide my way

Imagine you’re a bird  

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