An online concert is maybe similar to a fat free yoghurt. Whilst I don’t mind fat free yoghurts, I’m sat in my rocking chair, glasses almost a prerequisite to my weathered face as I reflect. Remember those times when we actually saw each other and played together and stuff? That was some full fat, real time bliss.
Normal times, I wouldn’t call myself a prolific concert-goer, but almost every week I would find myself at some music or creative event in London. Honestly, sometimes I only went because I thought I needed to prove something about my musical appreciation. Ok, yes, quite often I’d leave at the interval because I hate leaving anywhere in a huge crowd and wanted Wagamama takeaway. And maybe even sometimes I’d rather be alone in my flat, listening to Novo Amor or Bruno Major and crying about my concerto exam. Still, sometimes I would emerge from a concert revived and moved. I could transcend the noise of college’s achievement and comparison mantras, and experience a brief reminder of what enduring all of that was for. But all those experiences have gone now and that’s hard.
A lot of the time, concerts and events were a time to feel semi-anonymous. I also loved the waiting around beforehand, especially at the Royal Festival Hall. I’d often go to Foyles beneath the hall and maybe buy a poetry book or notebook before a concert. Sometimes I’d go to Southwark Cathedral first and walk along the illuminated southbank, past the Globe and Tate Modern to the hall. Frequently I’d end up running and miss the first piece because I’d taken too long people watching. There was always such a feeling of ease and acceptance there and I really loved that.
It may have been that I wouldn’t have gone to many concerts this term anyway, due to recitals and rehearsals for concerts I was to play in. The concert hiatus is a strange emotion to fathom, because it’s not so much the pain that I can’t go that’s upsetting. It’s more that I don’t like the fact that no one can go. Life isn’t normal. We haven’t ‘opted out’ of going to listen to a concert, these concerts aren’t happening at all because they are a hazard.
I’ve felt quite dislocated in my life as a student, many times and for many reasons. In these times, the thought of other people being moved by music and art and culture in these great spaces was so hopeful and exciting to me. Even though sometimes I didn’t feel inspired or able to go and experience, I held the knowledge that concerts were always there for me when I was ready to return.
I’m mourning that I can’t return for a while. There’s no one occupying the spaces that formed a part of my home. No one in the great buildings built for prayer, education and culture either. That’s the most difficult part for me.
Online concerts are a new kind of wonderful. They’ve shown us the possibilities for connection across the world. People are maybe more creative and open minded in their endeavours and it’s fascinating. Still, I’m not replete. Spaces and buildings hold a beauty and mystery that nothing virtual will ever recreate.