Note: This guest article was written by Ralf Reisinger in August of 2021
You will all remember April 2020. It was early in an anxious time where contact and interaction was carefully orchestrated to limit the possible spread of COVID-19. But do you remember the quiet? Normally, Jim and I appreciate quiet but this was different.
This was an absence of sound which contributed to an already somber feeling. While we are fortunate to be able to find some respite through time on a front porch, or patio, and yes, even a driveway, still the eerie quiet was pervasive.
One day our next door neighbor, Terry Langdon, wanted to test the acoustics outside as she played her viola. After a quick solo for her purposes, I said, “Thank you! That was very lovely. Please don’t stop!” Her music had filled the void in a delightful way that streaming music or a CD could not.
To my pleasant surprise Terry asked about our comfort level with an impromptu concert in the expanse of our driveways, and front yards if needed. Our driveways abut together making a double-wide space we jokingly refer to as the landing strip. The space easily supported all of the qualifications for social distancing and masks, and we would have the wonderful opportunity to hear live music.
Without any hesitation I said, “Yes! That would be wonderful.” And with chalk words at the end of the driveway advertising the performance, 20 masked people arrived with chairs and observed socially distant seating. Our silence was replaced with live music.
This success prompted Terry and ISO concertmaster Kevin Lin, to perform multiple times for the neighborhood again. Each time, word of the performance went out via chalk on the driveway and social media, and each time the changing audiences remained respectfully masked and socially distant. While live music again filled the void of silence, the musicians’ sheer joy in performing live contributed an extra feeling of lightness to those serious times.
You can imagine, then, our excitement when Terry asked if we would mind if she and a few of the Musicians of the ISO practiced in the driveway for an upcoming free concert. We were delighted to hear that we could hear more wonderful music just by opening windows and that this concert was going to be less than a hundred yards away at the Fairview Presbyterian Church parking lot!
Rehearsal time arrived and ominous clouds filled the sky; rain was imminent. Luckily, we had just cleaned our garage and were able to offer the quintet meager, but dry surroundings. And yes, despite a deluge of rain, we did still crack our windows, not wanting to miss a moment of beautiful live music.
The free concert happened in fine weather, and was followed by three more over the fall. Each time touching the lives of all who attended, or just happened to walk by.
For us, perhaps the best of all their performances was actually another rehearsal. It was a warm late autumn afternoon when sun and other elements led Terry and her colleagues to spread out on our empty back patio for a classical jam session.
To open our patio door and hear the wonderful music coming from my backyard was magnificent. It was never more evident how their skills and experience let them create world-class music not only on a formal stage but in diverse and informal surroundings.
Jim and I would like to give a huge Thank You to Terry Langdon and all the other Musicians of the ISO who freely shared their talents and love of music with us. You made those difficult times so much more bearable.