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REMOTE | Vanessa Fralick: ‘Find Yourself A Great Therapist!’

By Michael Zarathus-Cook on September 1, 2020

Vanessa Fralick (Photo courtesy of the artist)
Vanessa Fralick (Photo courtesy of the artist)

Yes it’s been a while since the last episode of REMOTE, but I’ve been working on an exciting new extension of this series, to be announced later this week. In the meantime, let’s catch up with the TSO’s Associate Principal Trombonist who, if you live in the Annex, you might have heard playing her instrument as a tribute to frontline workers during the pandemic.

How have you been coping through the lockdown?

Some days I feel like I’m coping fantastically; adapting to the new normal, loving the freedom of days and weeks to myself. And then I’ll be thrown by something as simple as a trip to the grocery store or listening to a recording of a Mahler symphony that I was expecting to perform this spring and the stress, uncertainty and grief takes me out for half a day or more. Thankfully I’m stuck at home with someone with whom I adore spending time, and we are tackling this crazy time together. All things considered I’m doing great.

I’ve had three months of free time, although there suddenly seems to be a flurry of activities — TSO recording projects, judging the Online Trombone Competition, planning future projects with the Canadian Trombone Quartet and even attempting some video editing for my University of Toronto Trombone Choir. I have watched surprisingly little television — the days always seem to fill themselves up somehow! I’ve planted quite a full garden of herbs and veggies, and anyone who’s friends with me on Facebook knows I’ve been having a blast in the kitchen! We’ve been cooking everything on our bucket list, from bagels and cinnamon buns to Japanese curry and shabu shabu to homemade pasta, spätzle and sourdough. I have a great workout app, Sweat, which adapted all its workouts for people stuck at home with minimal equipment, and luckily I enjoy jogging, and have been exploring the beautiful network of ravines in Toronto.

One of the most amazing things to come out of this pandemic for me is our neighbourhood band. I’ve lived in the Annex for a year and a half and hadn’t met any neighbours, but one family of brass players started coming out on their porch to play a song for frontline workers every evening. We dropped our cocktails and ran down the street to join them, and it stuck! We are now nearing 100 consecutive evenings. We’ve missed a couple here and there but the family band, Horn on the Cob, has performed a new arrangement every single night with friends and neighbours coming out to cheer them on. The nightly concerts have given us a tiny bit of structure to our days, and more importantly, have brought us a lot closer to our neighbours. (But not too close! Social distancing measures observed!)

What do you miss the most about your job?

Playing incredible music with some of the best musicians in the country. Being the third in a chord. I get to play with such an amazing low brass section and I miss those guys.

What are you watching, reading, listening to?

If you’re looking for a great show to watch, I would highly recommend Norsemen, Letterkenny, The Great and maybe my favourite, Broad City. For me, comedy is great at the end of the day to take the edge off, along with one of my newly discovered cocktail recipes, the Brooklyn.

Words of wisdom that have helped you get through this pandemic?

Find yourself a great therapist! Or, pick up the phone and call a friend you haven’t caught up with in a while, even if it’s been years — you will make their day. And right now we all need to help make each other’s days a little brighter.

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


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Michael Zarathus-Cook
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