Saturday, March 20, 2021

Live music is probably what I miss the most

I've heard the question asked often over these past 12 months: What's the one thing you miss the most since the outbreak of the pandemic?

The answers are often predictable, though no less poignant and heartfelt. People miss getting together with family and friends. They miss visiting their elderly relatives. They just want to go the movies or a ball game again with a crowd all around them.

There are many things I miss about which I comfort myself by keeping in mind that this will all eventually end. Some elements of our lives may change forever, but we'll still end up a lot closer to our previous "normal" than we are now.

For me, that will mean a return to Severance Hall.

Severance is the home of the world-renowned Cleveland Orchestra, an ensemble to which I am a subscriber. In fact, this was supposed to have been the year when I went all in with my commitment to the group.

Whereas in the previous few years I bought partial season packages of six or seven concerts each, my original plan for 2020-21 had been to attend a full slate of 13.

I was excited.

For one thing, these concerts are occasions when I get to spend a few hours with one of my two oldest daughters, Elissa and Chloe. They switch off on which concerts they attend with me. It's fun not only for the shared experience but also for the conversation (as well as the intermission wine I always buy them).

Nearly as important is the magic of the music. I use that word "magic" intentionally because I don't know how else to describe the sound those musicians onstage at Severance Hall produce.

It's one thing for me to listen to my classical CDs (I have nearly 200 of them), but quite another to hear these famous works performed live by world-class musicians. I never tire of it.

The Orchestra delayed the start of the season until January, then again until this month. They fully intended to do in-person concerts starting right about now by taking a long list of precautions to keep everyone safe.

But eventually it dawned on management that, even with the most stringent of measures, it made no sense to put an older audience at risk by having them together in one indoor venue, even with partial capacity.

So the season has gone fully virtual. I listen to the recorded performances the Orchestra puts out every other Thursday, and I enjoy them, but it's just not quite the same.

Someday. Someday we'll be back for in-person concerts. And when we are, that very loud sigh of contentment you'll hear coming from the balcony section will be mine.

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