As I started thinking about turning the calendar page, I realized that this December looks entirely different than any December I've ever experienced.
There are no live musical events on the calendar for the holidays. No gigs. No live concerts or church events. When I started adding up all the things I will not be doing this year, I was actually surprised. There is a lot going missing this year, for a lot of people.
For me -- I won't be playing in the Messiah that I've done for countless years, or in the day-after-Christmas home Messiah at Dr. Sloan's. I won't be playing the Christmas Eve candlelight service. I won't be doing other random church gigs, as I usually do.
There won't be a giant choral concert given by the LA Children's Chorus - something we attended every year, when my son sang in the choir. There won't be school-related choir concerts or holiday orchestra concerts. No Nutcracker ballet.
I won't get to take my Suzuki kids to perform at the local Alzheimer's home, where we have played a concert for residents every year for at least a decade. It's one of the most meaningful things I do all year -- the residents love to see the kids, and they start singing - remembering all the words to holiday songs, in a world in which they've forgotten so much else.
I also won't travel to Cincinnati to participate in the beautiful Boar's Head and Yule Log Festival with my sister's family. While they'll broadcast last year's pageant online, 2020 makes a break in an 80-year annual tradition for Christ Church Cathedral.
And on New Year's -- there will be no Rose Parade in Pasadena! No marching bands parading through the streets, for the first time since the parade was cancelled for World War II in the '40s. That's a tradition that's been going since 1890!
So I know that everyone is going to be missing certain live musical activities and traditions this month. I'd like to catalog all of those things - not to be depressing, but to make sure we remember it all. That's because we HAVE to make these things happen when this pandemic is over. Traditions may be broken this year, and it's up to us to help ensure that they return next year. Things are not going to magically "return to normal" -- we will have to work, with determination, to resume the traditions that we want to continue.
So please participate in the vote. Which tradition will you miss the most this year? Which will you help in the fight to keep going in the future? In the comments, please tell us about the musical traditions that have been important and enduring, and let's share ideas about how to support their continuation.
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Seasonal event I'll miss the most: my church choir's annual Lessons and Carols service, despite the funky alto line in "People Look East."
More than anything, always: weekend chamber music sight-reading sessions with my husband and our friends. It's cold, COVID is on the rise, and our closest friends are opting out of even outdoor, masked musical gatherings. So we wait.
Every year, one of the secondary schools in our city organizes a performance of a great choral masterpiece, sung from memory by the older students, and accompanied by the community orchestra I'm part of. That is what I miss most this year.
My one holiday commitment most years is my church orchestra's annual fundraiser concert for Safe Ground Sacramento, a homeless assistance and advocacy organization.
Unfortunately, I probably would not be performing this year anyway, because of slow recovery from a car accident this summer. The upper limit of my endurance right now is about 40 minutes on violin or 30 minutes on viola.
I will miss singing carols with others and seeing the panto that usually happens near me. Very difficult year.
At Christmas I usually sing the Local Sheffield Carols with many of my family and friends at a Public House called the Blue Ball in a South Yorkshire village called Worrall. The Sheffield and area Carols are sometimes called the South Yorkshire Carols, but they occur in other areas adjacent to South Yorkshire, North Derbyshire particularly. The words to some of them would be recognisable to most people, but the melodies and harmonies are different, they feature canons, counterpoint and 'Fancy Bits' that do not occur anywhere else. These carols predate the 'Modern' Carols by over a Century and were often sung outside farmhouses, accompanied by a broken consort of motley instruments, including Fiddles, Cellos and Brass instruments, but now they are more often performed communally in Public houses. Strangely enough, they were exported to Glenrock USA by some miners from North Derbyshire, over a hundred years ago, and they are still sung at Christmas there. We, in Sheffield, have made contact with the Glenrock Carollers and now some of them fly to the UK to join us in our singing. This year, sadly, there will be no singing! We hope to revive the tradition next Christmas! The music and information about the Sheffield Carols is available in book form from www.villagecarols.org.uk .
Princeton University uses a pick-up community choir for its Christmas Eve service since most of the students in their Chapel Choir go home for the holidays. I've enjoyed singing in this choir for the last 9 or so years, meeting with a fellow retiree from my old workplace to catch up during the breaks. I hope we will be able to meet and sing next year.
There is one event that I will miss, even though it is annoying and uncomfortable when I am actually doing it; playing with the local Mariachi for the Catholic church services for Dec. 12, Saint's day for the Virgen de Guadalupe, and the Sunday nearest Dec. 12. It usually involves midnight mass at one church, dawn serenata ("misa de gallo") at another, then on Sunday, a street procession, and another session in church. For the street procession I am playing and walking a couple of miles. Also in the parade will be Sinaloa-style brass bands, Indian dancers from the confraternities, horses from the Charro clubs. It's always cold, sometimes raining, so I use cheap violin #4. The special hymns are the Alabanzas, which are only done once a year, so nobody can remember them. It is the only time we use a music stand; for the song texts, not the music. The music is either not published, or in the wrong keys, and none of the guys read music anyway. If you think your church has loud acoustics, try to imagine the brass band playing inside, with bass drum, snare drum, cymbals, insane Tuba, screaming plastic clarinets, trombones playing incessant offbeats, and a trumpet style that I would call-- peeling the paint of the walls. After church we play in the parking lot for the Charro's dancing horses.
Joel Quivey, I sure wish I could watch all that!
We belonged to two U3A folk music groups that met once a fortnight. There was a dropbox repertoire of sheet music that we could use, which was handy because though I play by ear, my husband (English concertina) needs the notes in front of him. One of the groups, the one at York, was small and very friendly and we miss socialising.
The one at Ripon was larger but we were just getting to know people. They have continued via Zoom. We don't have the technology, but apparently only one person can be heard at a time, so they take it in turns to lead. The group leader at York thinks that isn't really very satisfying for a folk group, so he's going to wait till we're allowed to meet again.
We are lucky, of course, that we can continue to practise the repertoires at home. But it isn't the same and we really miss the shared endeavour, which did make us feel that we were both improving.
None of the above, so I didn't vote. Most events on the list happen in the evening. My schedule precludes going to them or performing in them -- I'm an early morning person, not a night person. Once the light of afternoon starts to fade, there's only one place I like to be -- home.
Then there's the factor of "been there, done that." As a student, I was happy to be part of these activities, but my appetite for them faded after that. Still, there are plenty of other people who make up a definite audience and market for them – with a collective will to bring them back. So I don't doubt they will come back once the pandemic has gone.
Now, thanks to HD screens and modern computer technology, I can take in multiple performances each week -- right here at home. And, as a YouTube premium subscriber, I'm not getting all this for nothing. The most important item, daily practice to stay in shape, goes on.
I'm missing orchestra and chamber music. I participated in some holiday concerts last year and Facebook just showed me the memories. One of them was a John Williams medley and for the final number, the conductor used a light saber, the first stand of cellos wore Jedi robes, and the whole viola section dressed up. I wore a Princess Leia wig and had a glow stick attached to my (carbon fiber backup) bow. I felt really wistful looking at those pictures, but the orchestra will be back.
I recently participated in virtual a holiday sing-along that was done by "TACO" (the Terrible Adult Chamber Orchestra). We sent in our videos and local high school students put them together as a project to learn video editing.
It's on YouTube and it's going to be on local public access TV. I haven't played Rudolph and Silver Bells and The First Noel in quite a while, so I had more of a chance here to do something seasonal than I usually do.
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November 29, 2020 at 07:58 PM · I have just missed performing in general. I really enjoy paying at senior's homes and stuff and just playing for people but that hasn't been super possible due to covid. I have (and will) participated in a few recorded no audience concerts but that's not nearly as fun as playing to a true audience. I have been participating in some discord server recitals and performance events which have given me a lot of motivation and hope, including 2 24-hour relay marathon recitals (essentially that is a recital without a set program and people discuss in chat who goes next and we keep the music going for as long as possible); with those relay recitals I could perform as many as 10 times so it has really motivated me to practice more repertoire. In fact I was just in one yesterday and today. I'm really hoping to perform in more concerts when he pandemic is over.