Music Matters with Peterborough Music Hub: Let’s keep smiling through...

Dame Vera LynnDame Vera Lynn
Dame Vera Lynn
Dame Vera Lynn celebrated her 103rd birthday last month and, via video message, urged us all to: “keep smiling and keep singing” during these challenging times. Sound advice from one of the nation’s most famous vocalists. Her performances and recordings through the dark days of the Second World War, provided comfort and hope to millions.

In spite of enormous social change, many of us will continue to use music as part of our efforts to stay well, relaxing us, entertaining us and inspiring us.

Looking back through last month’s column and the raft of events scheduled for us all to enjoy, the live musical landscape changed dramatically – overnight – with concerts, festivals, classes and exams postponed indefinitely.

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Many self-employed musicians , and other performers and artists, now face great uncertainty over their futures. We will all have a part to play in helping these sectors to recover quickly once it is deemed safe to do so.

In the meantime, we must hope that a way might be found to help freelancers, across cultural and other sectors, find support. For those of us with family and friends in these positions we will need to be especially mindful of ways we can help.

Certainly, musicians and other creative artists are continuing to find innovative ways to bring music and art into our lives. South London rapper, Psychs, has created a track all about the virus , taking a message to younger audiences about social distancing and staying safe.

Others – amateur and professional – have posted recordings of impromptu performances in and around private homes across the world. It is hard not to be especially moved by the plight of those living in Italy and the news reports of music being played from balconies throughout the country, creating new community arenas for performances.

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Music is clearly at the heart of bringing vital contact and company to friends and neighbours.

Meanwhile, in London (before recent further restrictions were introduced) the BBC reported on the story of professional musician Romain Malan (a member of the World Harmony Orchestra) and his wife Eleanor Harrison performing free concerts outside the homes of people in self-isolation. With a varied programme of works, including the theme music to Game Of Thrones, the couple took centre stage in the middle of a residential area and entertained families currently unable to leave their homes. Everyone could enjoy the experience from a safe distance and the film captured footage of some happy, smiling and very grateful faces.

No doubt these types of initiatives and interventions will continue to grow in popularity and inventiveness.

Even in the hardest of lockdowns, opening windows and sharing the joy of live music whenever it is safe to do so will clearly be a source of community bonding and some small pleasure over the difficult weeks and months to come.

May the lyrics of Dame Vera’s wartime hits continue to sing true in this battle too. Here’s to enjoying live music again: “some sunny day” soon.

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