MUSIC IN THE AGE OF COVID-19: Members of France’s National Orchestra defy constraints of self-isolation to make music together … apart

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In this handout photo provided by the National Orchestra of France on Wednesday April 1, 2020, musicians from the National Orchestra of France are shown in the screenshot as a patchwork, each performing parts of “Bolero” alone in lockdown. The musicians recorded themselves over several days in March for this video posted by the orchestra on March 29. With the magic of technology, their individual videos were woven together to create a rousing orchestra-like sound for the famous piece of music by French composer Maurice Ravel. (National Orchestra of France via AP)

LE PECQ, France (KETK) – The worldwide spread of COVID-19 has taken so much from us – lives, health, jobs, get-togethers, and culture.

Like almost every other aspect of life these days, theatres, music venues, and orchestra halls have gone dark and silent, leaving us without the live performances that enrich our lives.

A number of performers have found a way around self-isolation to keep doing what they love.

Garth Brooks and Trisha Yearwood have set Mondays for their from-home concerts on Facebook. Billboard has an entire schedule of livestreamed performances by artists from all genres.

Even in the age of COVID-19, artists are finding ways to create art and performers are finding ways to perform.

But … what if you are a member of an orchestra?

An orchestra isn’t one performer. It’s a collective, many musicians all working together to create one magical whole.

Impossible for any orchestra under the new normal of self-isolation and social distancing. Especially an orchestra whose country is in lockdown.

Unless you’re the National Orchestra of France and are determined to make something beautiful out of so trying and anxious a time.

With that determination and the aid of technology, the orchestra came together – even while staying apart – to give an inspiring performance of composer Maurice Ravel’s “Bolero” as a sign of their love for the audiences they so miss.

Musicians got their scores by email. They also got an audio track of the piece to listen to through earbuds as they played. They filmed themselves playing inside and outside, in clothing considerably more casual than typical concert attire.

One musician, kettle drum player Didier Benetti, had to improvise his performence. When France went into lockdown on March 27, he couldn’t take his drums. So he simply set up two chairs and “played” them with a ladle and wooden spoon.

Where there’s a will, there’s a way.

And such a way it is.

Dimitri Scapolan, a video producer and sound engineer, took all the disparate pieces and blended them together into a seamless and beautiful whole.

And such beauty is no doubt all the more appreciated in France, one of Europe’s hardest hit countries with France is one of Europe’s hardest-hit countries, with more than 57,000 confirmed cases and 4,000 dead.

For just over four minutes, though, COVID-19 was gone and all that remained was the music.

Watch the video and, just for those four minutes, let the music take you away as well.

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