Viewpoint: A musician’s life beneath COVID19 – Donald Nicolson


It provides me nice pleasure to write down just a few phrases on my productive
endeavours all through the course of 2020. I’ve been most lucky that many alternatives
got here my means, and I share right here just a few of the probabilities that nourished the
inventive urges via a interval that challenged us all.

For me, the financial and social influence on the humanities created
by the pandemic and the Australian response to fight it was quick.
Latitude 37 was within the rehearsal course of for our first tour of the yr when
the coronavirus outbreak grew to become actual, on Friday March 13. The next morning,
we had been to hit the street for our week-long sequence of concert events round Victoria,
ACT and New South Wales; as an alternative, we made the choice to cancel, and spent
most of that weekend calling subscribers and arranging refunds. Inside 48 hours,
months of upcoming live performance work engagements had been erased from my diary, the
starting of a protracted sequence of cancellations, which finally have lasted for
the period of the yr. Luckily, concert events haven’t been my solely focus for
this yr.

This yr, my workload on the College of Melbourne has
elevated, so though we closed our entrance doorways, my commitments hardly waned.
Throughout the first semester, I used to be coordinating the Figured Bass course. As a
sensible course, the necessity to train college students accompaniment abilities remotely was immensely
difficult. After every class on a Tuesday morning, I might spend the rest
of the week revising course materials and experimenting with my restricted tech
abilities and instruments, as all of us tried our greatest to change into conversant in Zoom. As we entered
the second semester, my Historic Efficiency Follow course was additionally run
completely on-line, which prompted me to begin working with software program with which I
might make demonstration recordings and movies for on-line broadcast. Finish of
yr recitals for college kids additionally concerned preparation of pre-recorded accompaniment
tracks, an fascinating process whenever you by no means received the prospect to play the music
with the instrumentalist and needed to depend on metronome markings!

The majority of my time grew to become dedicated to the manufacturing of Mozart’s The Magic Flute on the College of Melbourne. Given the circumstances, the efficiency of a full-scale manufacturing with orchestra might by no means happen. I started the method of re-writing all the opera for the mix of harpsichord, fortepiano, and chiptune: an thrilling new tackle the beloved story of Tamino, Pamina and Papageno together with his magic glockenspiel. This was an enormous quantity of enjoyable; getting shut and private with any rating of Mozart’s is a pleasure, not to mention one as inventive because the Flute. The audio recordings had been made with a double forged on the finish of the yr, and filming was just lately accomplished. This mission appears to be like to be extremely authentic in strategy, with some fantastic fairy-tale costumes to match the storyline.

Since Might, I’ve additionally added to my compositional portfolio. The Tasmanian ensemble Van Diemen’s Band, or VDB for brief (directed by Julia Fredersdorff, our expensive violinist from Latitude 37) commissioned me to supply a number of preparations and orchestrations. The primary of those was the Catalan people tune, The tune of the birds (el cant dels ocells), which you will already know as an encore favorite of the nice cellist, Pablo Casals. This made accessible to me an orchestra and refrain the dimensions of which I haven’t had the prospect to write down for since my teenage years! I additionally made a number of preparations for the newly-formed Van Diemen’s Fiddles, a extremely authentic trio of baroque violin, trendy violin and octave (bass) violin. This latter mission allowed me to discover my very own concepts in a medley of Balkan tunes, in addition to a contemplative association of the gorgeous Ave, generosa by the nice Hildegard of Bingen (1098-1179). I’m additionally excited to say that I’ve produced lots of the preparations for VDB for his or her Christmas live performance. This was adopted with a delayed broadcast by the ABC.

In direction of the top of every yr, it’s my behavior to do a stocktake of the 12 months occasions, to look again at what I produced, critique it, and so forth. Trying again on 2020 as a yr none of us will neglect, I’m proud that I’ve been capable of put collectively so many new and authentic issues. Artists thrive off inventive collaboration, each with different artists and with our cherished viewers. In 2021, I sit up for being again on stage, to share dwell music with you all once more.

Donald might be performing a recital of the keyboard works of William Byrd, “Lord Willoughby’s Welcome House” with due to the Melbourne Digital Live performance Corridor on Wednesday March 10, 7pm.

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