DESKTOP
TABLET (max. 1024px)
MOBILE (max. 640px)
Return to Top
Ludwig Van
Toronto Montreal

INTERVIEW | Toronto Symphony Musicians Share How They Are Coping With COVID-19

By Robin Roger on March 23, 2020

Two TSO musicians tell us how they are adjusting to being at home amid COVID-19.

Kelly Zimba and Jonathan Crow (Photographs courtesy of the TSO)
Kelly Zimba and Jonathan Crow (Photographs courtesy of the TSO)

Day by day and even hour-by-hour, the world we know and love is shutting down. Our first task is to stay healthy and protect the health of others by staying home. Part of that is learning to cope with the enforced confinement and reduced scope of activities that comes with it.

It’s hard on everybody. But musicians have a particular challenge that those of us in other professions don’t have: they have to maintain their skills even when they don’t know when their skills will be called for again. Even for elite musicians, the relentless reality of ‘use it or lose it’ prevails and they dare not slack off.

While the rest of us can try to pass the time productively and contentedly, as best we can in the state of uncertainty we share, professional musicians are still maintaining their discipline lest their peak ability decline. Imagine what it feels like to make yourself practice in the painstaking deliberate way that is required, without knowing if and when you’ll actually get to use these skills in front of an audience. This shows emotional and musical discipline, and should be an inspiration to us all.

Ludwig Van checked in with two of TSO’s great musicians when the cancellations were first announced to see how they were adjusting to being at home. Here’s how Jonathan Crow and Kelly Zimba are facing COVID 19.

Jonathan Crow plays with the TSO (Photo: Jag Gundu)
Jonathan Crow plays with the TSO (Photo: Jag Gundu)

For Jonathan Crow, the timing worked to make the first week at home feel like it was really just the March Break, so he was enjoying lots of family time. Whenever concerts will resume, Crow feels, he’ll be ready. “Most of my upcoming potential concerts are with pieces that I already know quite well, so I’ve had the luxury of putting aside my preparation for a little while during this strange time.”

In the meantime, Crow is taking advantage of the pause to return to pieces he’s already mastered. “It’s actually kind of nice to not have any time pressure and deadlines for preparing repertoire! I’ve been going back to pieces that I’ve played regularly, but would like to know more deeply — the Beethoven concerto for example. It’s been really great to work calmly without having to achieve anything for a specific day.”

When he’s not practising Crow is also finding that listening to music is inspiring. “I’ve been listening to Beethoven Op.132 — especially the gorgeous slow movement where Beethoven returns to health after a period of sickness. Hopefully a metaphor for the entire world. As a violinist I’ve spent much of my life working on the Sonatas and Partitas for Solo Violin, but I’ve never had the chance the really study the vocal works or Cello Suites. I’m listening to Pablo Casals play the 6 Suites for cello — recorded during the Spanish Civil War, at a time which was very difficult for him personally. It’s amazing to think of him being able to shut out the world around him and create such amazing beauty when he must have been so distraught about his country.”

Kelly Zimba (Photo courtesy of the artist)
Kelly Zimba (Photo courtesy of the artist)

Given the uncertainty as to which pieces will be performed in the next while, Kelly Zimba decided to shift away from specific repertoire for the short term.

“I’ve been spending more time practising fundamentals these days.  Right now I’m really just trying to find a routine and create a new ‘normal’, and that includes figuring out a good practice regimen. [Practising] certainly gives me something to do and a sense of purpose while remaining indoors. “

The TSO chose one of Zimba’s favourite pieces of music, Appalachian Spring, for their home-based ensemble performance. The performance has gone viral, receiving nearly 50,000 views in just 24 hours.

“Aaron Copland’s Appalachian Spring has always been meaningful to me (and especially so right now),“says Zimba. “Maybe it’s because I love Aaron Copland, or that I’ve been lucky enough to perform it many times in the past few years, or that I’m from Western Pennsylvania, where the story is set.  In any case, its optimistic spirit — at times in the face of uncertainty — is contagious and important to cultivate during a time like this”.

Zimba’s use of the word “contagious” is important — it shows that we can spread positive vibes even when we’re trying to avoid spreading a virus. And music can be heard from six feet away and even farther!

Zimba is also planning to assign some of her practice time to challenges she wouldn’t have had time for during the regular concert season.

“I’m planning to learn a few new solo pieces and resurrect some etudes from my university studies.  Despite the chaos unfolding around the world, I hope to become a better musician and flutist during this time.”

As time goes on and the pandemic evolves, the challenges will only intensify and everybody will need to draw on their personal resources to cope.

Classical musicians such as Crow and Zimba are both terrific role models even if we aren’t musicians ourselves.

#LUDWIGVAN

Want more updates on classical music and opera news and reviews? Follow us on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter for all the latest.

Robin Roger

Robin Roger is a psychotherapist who emphasizes the importance of learning new things as part of developing and maintaining mental wellness.She is a committed amateur pianist as well as a writer, book reviewer and frequent contributor to Ludwig Van.
Robin Roger

Robin Roger

Robin Roger is a psychotherapist who emphasizes the importance of learning new things as part of developing and maintaining mental wellness.She is a committed amateur pianist as well as a writer, book reviewer and frequent contributor to Ludwig Van.
Robin Roger
Share this article
lv_toronto_banner_high_590x300
comments powered by Disqus

Ludwig Van Toronto

REMOTE| Tim Dawson ‘Everyone Is Suffering Right Now And We Need To Be Patient And Kind’

By Michael Zarathus-Cook on June 17, 2020

Tim Dawson, Toronto Symphony Orchestra bassist, joins us for this episode of REMOTE to bring a much needed dose of positivity to your online content.
Read the full story Comments
Share this article
lv_toronto_banner_high_590x300

THE SCOOP | Sistema Toronto Scarborough Choir Teams Up With Singer-Songwriter Roveena In New Video

By Michael Vincent on June 16, 2020

Sri Lankan born artist Roveena and the Sistema Toronto Scarborough Choir team up to perform her songs “Fearless” and “Fly” online.
Read the full story Comments
Share this article

WHO’S WHO | 5 Reasons To Watch Amici’s Virtual Concert – Celebrating Canada

By Ludwig Van on June 25, 2020

Join Amici for Celebrating Canada a free virtual concert featuring some of their favourite Canadian repertoire from their most recent album, Inspired by Canada/ Notre Pays.
Read the full story Comments
Share this article
lv_toronto_banner_low_590x300
lv_toronto_ssb_atf_300x300
lv_toronto_ssb_high_300x300
lv_toronto_ssb_mid_300x300
lv_toronto_ssb_low_300x300
lv_toronto_tsb_high_300x700
lv_toronto_tsb_low_300x700
lv_toronto_ssb_atf_300x300
lv_toronto_ssb_high_300x300
lv_toronto_ssb_mid_300x300
lv_toronto_ssb_low_300x300
lv_toronto_tsb_high_300x700
lv_toronto_tsb_low_300x700

We have detected that you are using an adblocking plugin in your browser.

The revenue we earn by the advertisements is used to manage this website. Please whitelist our website in your adblocking plugin.