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Ludwig Van
Toronto Montreal

REMOTE | Danika Lorèn: ‘Yes, I Stress-Bought Musical Instruments’

By Michael Zarathus-Cook on April 22, 2020

Danika Lorèn (Photo courtesy of the artist)
Danika Lorèn (Photo courtesy of the artist)

It’s been a riot keeping up with the ways people are coping (or not coping) with the lockdown. Breadmaking is through the roof, Zoom is now a verb, the number of podcasts in existence is officially over a million, and most of us can sketch every detail of the Prime Minister’s front porch from memory.

There’s undeniably a bright side to this lockdown, and it’s an optimistic little dance that we’ve all got to do to manoeuvre through the doom and gloom and find that lightheartedness. That’s the pattern that’s evolving in this interview series: artists are hurting, in tangible and intangible ways — but the ‘yes and’ attitude that is generally diffused within the performing arts is nevertheless prevalent in their commentary. They’re keeping busy creating new things and polishing the old, partly for the sake of an eventual audience and partly for the damn good feeling that comes from bringing something to life, even if it’s just for the people in their household.

The government’s announcement of half a billion dollars made available as an emergency fund for the arts sector is a right step in the direction of admitting that the work done by artists is essential. How the artists around us are fairing during this pandemic will have a direct correlation to our collective sense of hope in the months that lie beyond the lockdown.

One of those artists, composer and soprano Danika Lorèn, joins us to share some lighthearted thoughts on her time in quarantine.

How are you doing during this pandemic?

It varies from moment to moment! The easiest part is being at home; it’s a luxury I don’t have on a regular basis. The toughest part is not being able to make music with other people. For me, singing is all about connecting with other musicians (and of course the audience), and I am feeling horribly disconnected right now.

What are some of the ways you are keeping busy artistically?

I have been writing new music and drawing a bit. My attention span at home is even shorter than usual so I am embracing that and focusing on smaller projects or small pieces of larger projects. Rachel Fenlon and I have been collaborating at a distance (she is in Berlin) and she has been gracious enough to learn and debut some of my newest compositions! It keeps me motivated to collaborate even from afar 🙂 I am not singing, but I have reconnected with my melodica and am waiting on a xylophone and lyre to arrive… yes, I stress-bought musical instruments.

Any specific books, films, or TV on the go?

Very mixed bag! I read a lot of poetry, right now Christina Rossetti and Lisa Robertson have been hitting the spot. I have a book of 500 self portraits which has been unusually fascinating lately, and I started to tackle the masterpiece anime One Piece (approx 500 episodes to go). The Great British Bake Off and the current season of Survivor have also been on a lot in our apartment. This season has been sensational, don’t believe me, just watch.

Any words of wisdom to get through this?

Be patient and generous with the world around you, and the world within you. Sounds a bit like a fortune cookie message, but it has been a grounding thought for me lately.

What do you think are some of the ways arts communities can better prepare for adjusting to a crisis such as this?

I wish I had some brilliant idea for this, but I don’t. I think it is impossible to know now what would have been helpful in this situation, because we are at the very beginning of it. I hope out of this a stronger and more innovative online presence for Canadian arts organizations can be curated, and I see that happening slowly, but surely.

For more chats with artists in social isolation, read on HERE.

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Michael Zarathus-Cook

Michael is a student at the University of Toronto, a music writer and general arts critic on briband.com He has been published in The Wholenote Magazine, Opera Canada, The Dance Current, Schmopera and more.
Michael Zarathus-Cook

Michael Zarathus-Cook

Michael is a student at the University of Toronto, a music writer and general arts critic on briband.com He has been published in The Wholenote Magazine, Opera Canada, The Dance Current, Schmopera and more.
Michael Zarathus-Cook
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