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What the world needs now is.... music, sweet music: Keeping the arts alive during a pandemic.

I began singing with Ensemble Altera (Altera) in 2017, and have loved - no, adored - every second of it. Each concert performed has been one full of challenging music that rewards everyone involved, has given me so many memories, and fostered relationships with amazingly talented musicians who have taught me so very much. When I began singing with Altera, I didn’t think it could get much better, but it did. With each concert came so much more joy, along with that feeling of knowing I was doing what I was meant to do.

No one knew of the hard times ahead, and no one could ever have imagined that our concert in the summer of 2019 would be the last before a pandemic would hit the world head on.

The unthinkable happened, and, in 2020, we found that doing what we loved the most, making music with each other, was dangerous. Within days, each member of the music community saw their gigs canceled and continued to spend the next months in quarantine. Refusing to give up, after months of not singing, our director, Christopher Lowrey, worked extremely hard to find ways where we could still sing together without any Covid-related ramifications. This led us to our first performance during Covid, our Garage Concert Series. After much deliberation and planning, we met and spent a week rehearsing and recording videos to be put out online. We were back!

With these and then the Christmas sessions last November, we found solutions through ventilation, testing, bubbling, masking in rehearsals and social distancing. One might think this is all too much to go through just to sing, right? No, each person in the group was more than willing, and just ecstatic at the idea of this project. Taking all the extra precautions seems so easy when you know that you are able to make music again. I could not help but think that I was so lucky to be there. Since that first day in the garage, each recording session has become so very much more than what I said before; it has become a statement, as well. Altera is playing a vital role in keeping music alive when so many think it should be avoided at all costs, and, in doing so, we make people around the world happy during the worst year of so many of their lives.

How does such a simple action such as singing change our entire world? Why are the arts so important, especially right now? For myself, singing brings a natural happiness and comfort, and is a huge element in how people express themselves. Aside from how important it is for musicians’ mental health, music is vital to so many people’s lives. From going to the Opera, hearing live music in a pub, or walking down the road in a city and hearing a street performer, music is everywhere in our lives.

This past year, people have not only missed music, but the arts overall. So, let’s bring them back, safely of course, and help the world slowly get back up on its feet. After all, how long can we really make it without music?

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