The COVID-19 pandemic, which shows no signs of abating in the US, has caused everyone to rethink their way of working and communicating. The musical community has had to face the fact that our life’s blood of live concert events is suspended indefinitely. Back in March, there was some optimism that live events could resume in the fall, then the spring, and now it seems that it will be late 2021 at the earliest before anything like “normal” conditions return. This ever-extending horizon has caused everyone to rethink the entire idea of providing musical content to our loyal patrons, and also how to stay alive and relevant as an organization so that when conditions allow, we can once again present live events.
Organizationally, Pacific MusicWorks had a few advantages entering into this time of upheaval:
- Our extremely creative and agile artistic team has continuously worked to brainstorm new ideas, and together with our managing director, to implement innovations as conditions evolved.
- Our very engaged and committed board of directors also saw this forced intermission as an opportunity to rebrand and improve every aspect of our organization.
- Our relatively small size (in comparison to symphony orchestras and opera companies) has allowed for some nimble reactions, often more difficult for larger organizations.
- Our extremely loyal and responsive supporters and donors have seen the special needs of this time and stepped up to supply the wherewithal to continue.
- Our large library of archival concert video recordings.
In April, as it became apparent that we would have to postpone the remainder of our season, we wanted to find a way to bridge the gap to what we hoped would be a resumption of live events in the fall. We decided quickly on a plan to use our concert archives to produce a 2020 Virtual Season from April to September. To add a personal touch, we decided that I would record introductions to the concerts, setting a context for the original performances and the featured soloists. These postings met with approval amongst our audience and also elicited some much needed donations.
The experience of Pacific MusicWorks’ Underground series is so bound up with the atmosphere of conviviality being presented in the informal atmosphere of a brewpub or other informal gathering place, and with the immersive multimedia experiences and witty repartee of Henry Lebedinsky as the host, that it is a special challenge to create a convincing online version of these events. Henry has already produced two videos – one centered on the iconic 17th century Mexican poet, theologian, and feminist Sor Juana Inès de la Cruz and the other on the marvelous and prolific composer Isabella Leonarda. Both of these made a different kind of use of our archival material, selecting certain pieces from past concerts to illustrate moments in the lives of these incredible women. Stand by for newly created concert material and special invitations to partake of the Underground atmosphere through Zoom and other virtual gathering platforms.