What’s Wrong with This Picture? Or, Loosening Ties.

 

For most of my adult life, I have been a lover of classical music, especially chamber music. I got my first taste of playing chamber music in the sixth grade in school, as my string quartet played for other classes of students. I remember being awfully proud of being able to play beautiful music for my classmates.

In the 1970s and 1980s, my first husband and I had season tickets to the Seattle Symphony and attended summer concerts of the Seattle Chamber Music Society. In 1984, I resumed playing the violin after not having played for 25 years and got back into chamber music. When I divorced in 1991, I could no longer afford concert tickets, so I began volunteering for the Chamber Music Society. I loved working backstage, and being able to meet all the wonderful artists, and watch the performances from backstage. I worked both the Summer and Winter Festivals, until the Chamber Music Society moved to the bigger Benaroya Hall in Seattle, which had its own backstage employees.

When I remarried in 2003, my husband and I could now afford to be in the audience for the Chamber Music Festival, so I ceased being a volunteer and we became audience, and donors to the Festival. Through a mention by someone we met through the Chamber Music Society, we heard about the Seattle Repertory Jazz Orchestra, and began to attend their concerts, too, and donated to them. Both groups are smaller than a huge full orchestra, and concerts are more intimate. I have always been a very visual person, and watching chamber musicians is a delight to me, because they interact so more immediately than orchestra musicians do.

The government restrictions during the Covid-19 pandemic, starting in March of 2020, changed everything. All in-person concerts were prohibited, and we lost the money we had paid for tickets to both organizations. In the summer of 2020, the Chamber Music Festival began a short series of live-streamed performances from their new Center for Chamber Music. Only a few artists could make their way to Seattle to play, and most artists were prohibited from traveling by local lockdowns where they lived. Those intrepid artists who could travel to Seattle did so and were grateful to be able to play, even though there were no people in the room to listen and applaud. Also, due to Seattle City rules, all the performers were required to wear masks while performing.

In 2021, the Chamber Music Society put on a full series of concerts in the  Winter and Summer.  More musicians were able to travel to Seattle, and they were very happy to be “let out of their cages” to come and play music.  The Seattle City regulations were nearly as onerous, with vaccination mandates for all musicians and staff, and also audience. No one could enter an indoor venue anywhere in King County without a certificate of vaccination, which prevented many patrons from attending in person.  The Chamber Music Society had mastered the art of the live-stream, however, and they were able to put on a full slate of performances both in-person and streamed.  The majority of performers still wore masks, including the piano page-turners.  Since my husband has refused vaccination, we bought the live-stream tickets, and watched all the concerts.

The situation for the Seattle Repertory Jazz Orchestra was much more difficult.  The City had extensive rules regarding how many musicians could be on stage together, which necessitated cutting down the number of players, and only programming pieces for small ensembles.  Since a jazz big band is formed mostly of wind and brass instruments (with drums, piano, and stand-up bass), the musicians had to be spaced six feet apart on stage (where they could not easily hear each other), and were forced to wear masks when they were not actively playing.  They even had to mask their instruments!  This is another brass ensemble, to give you an idea what that entailed (sorry, I couldn’t get a pic of the SRJO performers on stage).

OutdoorBandHS

I felt so sorry for all the musicians who had to play under such intolerable conditions.  But I also found my feelings about the music changing.  My husband and I agreed that, in the absence of in-person concerts and events, our ties with the organizations were changing.  The City of Seattle abandoned its vaccine and mask mandates in late 2021, but the damage had already been done to the psyches of many of the musicians and patrons.

The SCMS Winter Festival went on as “normal”, but with significant differences.  Many of the musicians still chose to wear masks while playing.  Hubby and I agree that, since we are fully aware that mask-wearing has NO effect on the transmission of the Covid virus, the masked musicians diminished our pleasure in the performances.  As I said before, I am a very visual person, and being unable to see the musicians’ facial expressions reduced the benefit I get from listening and watching chamber music.  We agree that there is nothing we can do to persuade the musicians to change their behavior.  The misinformation being spread by the so-called “public-health authorities” has possibly irretrievably changed the musicians’ emotional makeup, making them permanently afraid of being with other people without face coverings.

As to SRJO, they are still not back to full strength, and even though they are still putting on concerts, their halls still have capacity restrictions, so they can sell fewer tickets.  Their “gala auction” in March was 100% virtual, which leaves out all the real fun of a benefit auction and dinner.  We did not attend, and we find that it’s easier to just not tune in to the live-streamed concerts.

As I have said here before, we believe that the pandemic restrictions imposed by governments have severely damaged society in America, making everyone afraid of all other people; isolating people from one another, and contributing to social breakdown.  They have succeeded in our case, in loosening the ties we used to have, to our favorite musical presenters.  We no longer feel the connections we used to have, to the staff and musicians of both organizations.  My husband’s accordion band, which is led by an elderly woman, has not met in over two years; that’s another tie loosened to the breaking point.

We agree that watching musicians in masks makes us uncomfortable, and less likely to gain pleasure from watching a chamber music or jazz concert, in person or live-streamed.  We very much regret what the Health Nazis have done to our beloved musical groups and their staff, but it is what it is.  And so we will be less inclined to watch, or to monetarily support, organizations that form the lifeblood of the performing-arts community in our area.  It is a crying shame, and we are very unhappy.

[Originally posted at RushBabe49.com]

From my original post, here is the comment by my most loyal follower, Ray.

I believe most of the musicians are not themselves idealogues, and of these they understandably defer to the predominant preferences of their donors and patrons, which will vary by location. I support the artists to be able to perform, but I don’t support the Seattle moneyed class who together seem to be cowtowing to the mask and vaccine psychoses. I feel like it’s only out of following a herd mentality in Western Washington state that we get stuck with these inhuman requirements. The web site for this years’ summer festival has omitted any mention of restrictions, and purely out of suspicion, I only subscribed to the remote viewing option. But I’m expecting it to be unwatchable if the artists are all masked. I think they chickened out on any specifics, but the honest truth might be that they just don’t [know] whether the restrictions will be looser, tighter, or more of the same. This is how the overlords like it in King County, at least.

Published in Culture
This post was promoted to the Main Feed by a Ricochet Editor at the recommendation of Ricochet members. Like this post? Want to comment? Join Ricochet’s community of conservatives and be part of the conversation. Join Ricochet for Free.

There are 23 comments.

Become a member to join the conversation. Or sign in if you're already a member.
  1. Franco Member
    Franco
    @Franco

    I’m right with you. I cannot bear to watch people performing in masks and will not do it. On my instagram feed I get a lot of dance videos because of my daughter, and a lot of music videos classical and rock because of my interests. Any time I see someone playing or dancing wearing a mask I scroll by. The closest I can come to understand my visceral rejection is that I lose respect for whatever the person is trying to convey and the person him/herself. 

    It can’t be ‘art’ or it’s allowing art to be restricted.

    I think it demeans humans and humanity. We are not dirty, we are not diseased, our breath is not unclean! 

    • #1
  2. WillowSpring Member
    WillowSpring
    @WillowSpring

    This has happened to a lot of organizations guided  by volunteers.  The COVID restrictions threw enough sand in the machine to effectively stop it.

    I had been going to the Northern Virginia Linux User Group (NoVALUG) pretty much every 2nd Saturday since the 90’s.  COVID restrictions forced a change from in-person meetings to virtual.  That effectively killed the informal discussions that were a favorite part of the meetings for me.  I don’t think I have been to a virtual meeting for the last 18 months.

    I also feel for those who were inspired by the Trump economy to start stores or restaurants and were then hit by the double whammy of Covid and Biden.

    • #2
  3. Hoyacon Member
    Hoyacon
    @Hoyacon

    I am a patron of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, which, although not the country’s best, is certainly one of the most underrated.   At a recent concert the audience was required to present both proof of vax and to wear a mask throughout the concert.  The orchestra was masked, although the conductor and principal soloist were happily not.

    I’ll admit to lacking a certain calm when I’m annoyed, but it took me a good while to get my mind off of the dictates and back on the music.  Ushers, who were extremely polite, were still “policing” the audience for compliance, although they did not interrupt the music.  Knowing that masks were no longer required in the jurisdiction, I asked one of the ushers and was told that it was a decision of the orchestra.  I only have his word, so we’ll leave it at that.

    • #3
  4. navyjag Coolidge
    navyjag
    @navyjag

    Good one Rush.  So when did the accordians come in?

    • #4
  5. Full Size Tabby Member
    Full Size Tabby
    @FullSizeTabby

    RushBabe49: As I have said here before, we believe that the pandemic restrictions imposed by governments have severely damaged society in America, making everyone afraid of all other people; isolating people from one another, and contributing to social breakdown.  

    Not specific to music, I think that is a general effect. Official restrictions were in place long enough, followed by a longer period of self-imposed isolations “to be sure we are safe” that many critical bonds of society were broken. It will take years if ever to restore the necessary societal bonds of trust and interaction. [My personal opinion is that these broken social bonds caused by involuntary and voluntary isolation are a large factor in the high level of violence we are seeing (including the mass shootings), and the strong desire of so many to express their frustrations in violence.]

    • #5
  6. MarciN Member
    MarciN
    @MarciN

    RushBabe49: We agree that watching musicians in masks makes us uncomfortable, and less likely to gain pleasure from watching a chamber music or jazz concert, in person or live-streamed.  We very much regret what the Health Nazis have done to our beloved musical groups and their staff, but it is what it is.  And so we will be less inclined to watch, or to monetarily support, organizations that form the lifeblood of the performing-arts community in our area.  It is a crying shame, and we are very unhappy.

    I agree completely.

    The Boston Pops holiday concerts are like this too–“were like this,” I should have said. I didn’t watch the recorded version this year. The masks are weird and distracting.

    • #6
  7. Phil Turmel Coolidge
    Phil Turmel
    @PhilTurmel

    Hoyacon (View Comment):

    I am a patron of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, which, although not the country’s best, is certainly one of the most underrated. At a recent concert the audience was required to present both proof of vax and to wear a mask throughout the concert. The orchestra was masked, although the conductor and principal soloist were happily not.

    I’ll admit to lacking a certain calm when I’m annoyed, but it took me a good while to get my mind off of the dictates and back on the music. Ushers, who were extremely polite, were still “policing” the audience for compliance, although they did not interrupt the music. Knowing that masks were no longer required in the jurisdiction, I asked one of the ushers and was told that it was a decision of the orchestra. I only have his word, so we’ll leave it at that.

    My wife asked for tickets to several performances of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra last fall.  We attended two, with the same mask and vaccine policy, and the same insistence from the staff to ensure compliance.  Georgia had lifted all restrictions by then, but Atlanta itself was still pushing them.  A brief “surge” in Omicron pushed two performances to online-only, and that made me allow a client trip during the final performance purchased.

    We were credited a couple performances for the upcoming season.  We are not going to bother.  Which is a shame, because ASO has talented musicians and other performers.  But the inmates are in control of the asylum, and that’s not something with which I will participate.

    • #7
  8. Ray Kujawa Coolidge
    Ray Kujawa
    @RayKujawa

    Yes, well, ahem, I did make those remarks on that other platform, because probably nobody reads the remarks there. But nevertheless, I still, uh, stand by those, er, remarks. I do still love that organization, but the book is still out on what will happen. We shall see what we shall see, as it were, come the first week of July. For what it’s worth, if you do have a good stereo hooked up to your internet computer, their streamed programs are very good. It actually might be the 2nd week of July before any of the recorded streams are released, I’m thinking, because I don’t think they do livestreams like the SRJO. But check out their website. I think it’s like $204 for the streamed series.

    • #8
  9. Ray Kujawa Coolidge
    Ray Kujawa
    @RayKujawa

    navyjag (View Comment):

    Good one Rush. So when did the accordians come in?

    Accordions

    They came in the third movement of course, the Scherzo.

    • #9
  10. Cassandro Coolidge
    Cassandro
    @Flicker

    Ray Kujawa (View Comment):

    navyjag (View Comment):

    Good one Rush. So when did the accordians come in?

    Accordions

    They came in the third movement of course, the Scherzo.

    Isn’t one who plays an accordion and accordian?

    • #10
  11. Jimmy Carter Member
    Jimmy Carter
    @JimmyCarter

    Cassandro (View Comment):

    Ray Kujawa (View Comment):

    navyjag (View Comment):

    Good one Rush. So when did the accordians come in?

    Accordions

    They came in the third movement of course, the Scherzo.

    Isn’t one who plays an accordion and accordian?

    An accordioneristette

    • #11
  12. RushBabe49 Thatcher
    RushBabe49
    @RushBabe49

    navyjag (View Comment):

    Good one Rush. So when did the accordians come in?

    Never, since there’s no such thing as an “accordian”. (sorry, I have a pet peeve when it comes to spelling)

    And most chamber musicians draw the line at such a plebeian instrument, even though it has a huge range and can play most classical music.

    • #12
  13. Red Herring Coolidge
    Red Herring
    @EHerring

    SC freed itself of the shackles as quickly as it could. We still lost many of our hobbies. The NCAA shut down baseball, schools closed, and we began sharing daily homeschooling with the other grandparents. It is all a blur now. Somewhere in time the phil started back and streamed concerts and we watched.

    Our return to normalcy started in the summer. The pool wasn’t closed for long. The summer CPL shut down as a conference because too many teams weren’t allowed to play in their states. Three teams, mine, Savannah Bananas, and Macon Bacon decided to play each other and Columbia International University formed two teams to play us. On opening night, just before the gates opened somebody complained to the governor’s office and it shut us down even though little leagues were playing across the street.

    The owner and the town went to bat and declared us to be the same as the little leagues and the gates opened a week later. Baseball lasted until August when the players returned to college. They did temperature checks, required masks unless we were in our seats and had social distancing seating. Once we were in our seats, we had fun and watch games like normal people.

    Restaurants quickly returned to inside seating. One day, my husband and I said the heck with this and took off our masks in the grocery store for good. We weren’t alone. Everyone hated them and just needed to not be the first.

    The phil started up in the fall with social distancing seating and masks. They split the audience into two concerts and streamed the second concert. We did live, which wasn’t as long as normal. This year, no masks and a packed house.

    My community band shut down when covid closed the schools. We were inactive until last November. Once we started, we required proof of vaccine so we were down about 25 people. We did our Christmas concert then delayed returning until February. We returned and did two more concerts. We lost several members during the shutdown to covid. Our band’s liability insurance would not insure for covid so we had to be careful.

    The band was off but I wasn’t. I was the treasurer and had monthly duties and bills to pay. Watching the bank account drain worried me. After 12 years, I had had enough and told them I needed a break. I am closing out the band’s records and passing the duty on to the next treasurer this week.

    I was also treasurer for my woman’s club and juggled covid, zoom, and safe, in-person meetings. I told them I needed a break, too. Even in a fairly free state, covid has taken its toll on me.

    • #13
  14. navyjag Coolidge
    navyjag
    @navyjag

    RushBabe49 (View Comment):

    navyjag (View Comment):

    Good one Rush. So when did the accordians come in?

    Never, since there’s no such thing as an “accordian”. (sorry, I have a pet peeve when it comes to spelling)

    And most chamber musicians draw the line at such a plebeian instrument, even though it has a huge range and can play most classical music.

    No problem since you are chatting with worst proof reader on the site.  Stopped piano lessons at age 8 since convinced my parents I would be happier playing baseball.  Wrong choice. 

    • #14
  15. RushBabe49 Thatcher
    RushBabe49
    @RushBabe49

    navyjag (View Comment):

    RushBabe49 (View Comment):

    navyjag (View Comment):

    Good one Rush. So when did the accordians come in?

    Never, since there’s no such thing as an “accordian”. (sorry, I have a pet peeve when it comes to spelling)

    And most chamber musicians draw the line at such a plebeian instrument, even though it has a huge range and can play most classical music.

    No problem since you are chatting with worst proof reader on the site. Stopped piano lessons at age 8 since convinced my parents I would be happier playing baseball. Wrong choice.

    If you are ever in the Seattle area, please let us know so we can take you out to dinner.

    • #15
  16. navyjag Coolidge
    navyjag
    @navyjag

    RushBabe49 (View Comment):

    navyjag (View Comment):

    RushBabe49 (View Comment):

    navyjag (View Comment):

    Good one Rush. So when did the accordians come in?

    Never, since there’s no such thing as an “accordian”. (sorry, I have a pet peeve when it comes to spelling)

    And most chamber musicians draw the line at such a plebeian instrument, even though it has a huge range and can play most classical music.

    No problem since you are chatting with worst proof reader on the site. Stopped piano lessons at age 8 since convinced my parents I would be happier playing baseball. Wrong choice.

    If you are ever in the Seattle area, please let us know so we can take you out to dinner.

    Son lived there for 15 years and loved it. We did too. Then became too much like San Fran so he left for Denver. Very happy there. 

    • #16
  17. kedavis Coolidge
    kedavis
    @kedavis

    navyjag (View Comment):

    RushBabe49 (View Comment):

    navyjag (View Comment):

    RushBabe49 (View Comment):

    navyjag (View Comment):

    Good one Rush. So when did the accordians come in?

    Never, since there’s no such thing as an “accordian”. (sorry, I have a pet peeve when it comes to spelling)

    And most chamber musicians draw the line at such a plebeian instrument, even though it has a huge range and can play most classical music.

    No problem since you are chatting with worst proof reader on the site. Stopped piano lessons at age 8 since convinced my parents I would be happier playing baseball. Wrong choice.

    If you are ever in the Seattle area, please let us know so we can take you out to dinner.

    Son lived there for 15 years and loved it. We did too. Then became too much like San Fran so he left for Denver. Very happy there.

    I guess I’ll be happy for people who think they improved their situation, but Seattle to Denver doesn’t seem like a significant improvement to me.

    • #17
  18. I Walton Member
    I Walton
    @IWalton

    Folks who love the music and are connected to it have to arrange unmasked alternatives.  If this doesn’t happen the folks who want to destroy local activities in order to promote organized centralized  broadcasts move their objectives forward.   

    • #18
  19. RightAngles Member
    RightAngles
    @RightAngles

    The sight of those musicians in masks! The irritation factor would definitely outweigh the enjoyment. What a shame. And here is me at age 9 playing the violin for my sister. My violin teacher was named Miss Peacock.

    • #19
  20. Ray Kujawa Coolidge
    Ray Kujawa
    @RayKujawa

    Cassandro (View Comment):

    Ray Kujawa (View Comment):

    navyjag (View Comment):

    Good one Rush. So when did the accordians come in?

    Accordions

    They came in the third movement of course, the Scherzo.

    Isn’t one who plays an accordion and accordian?

    It depends. You can be an accordianne or you can be an accordiandy depending on how you self identify, which can of course change fron minute to minute.

    • #20
  21. kedavis Coolidge
    kedavis
    @kedavis

    Ray Kujawa (View Comment):

    Cassandro (View Comment):

    Ray Kujawa (View Comment):

    navyjag (View Comment):

    Good one Rush. So when did the accordians come in?

    Accordions

    They came in the third movement of course, the Scherzo.

    Isn’t one who plays an accordion and accordian?

    It depends. You can be an accordianne or you can be an accordiandy depending on how you self identify, which can of course change fron minute to minute.

    • #21
  22. Hoyacon Member
    Hoyacon
    @Hoyacon

    RightAngles (View Comment):

    The sight of those musicians in masks! The irritation factor would definitely outweigh the enjoyment. What a shame. And here is me at age 9 playing the violin for my sister. My violin teacher was named Miss Peacock.

    Beautiful.  And all female violin teachers should be named Miss Peacock.

    • #22
  23. Al Sparks Thatcher
    Al Sparks
    @AlSparks

    I recently watched some YouTube videos of Conan O’Brian’s last few shows on TBS, and they had set things up so that there was the usual social distancing.  It was ok, but when they panned the audience, it showed them all masked.  What a bummer.

    On a more personal note, a dear friend retired from her job after, I want to say, 35 years.  I had every intention of attending her retirement party, but when I arrived, there was a sign at the door that masks were required.

    I turned around and left.

    • #23
Become a member to join the conversation. Or sign in if you're already a member.