What has sustained you through the pandemic/furlough?
“As a political junkie I have not wanted for something to keep me occupied. And I've been reading more - also writing more. I'm listening to more music including genres other than symphonic.” - Tom Reel, Double Bass
“Volunteering has helped me through this time. I volunteer at my church with online prelude music before Mass. I have enjoyed delivering meals to the elderly and shut-ins. I also like to volunteer with animal rescue groups, including the Golden Retriever rescue of South Hampton Roads.” - Allegra Tortolano Havens, Violin
“Tennis. It's a socially-distanced sport to begin with, so it has been my saviour. I joined a tennis league a little over a year ago and I've been so active during quarantine that they awarded me runner-up (I'm into 2nds I guess?) for 2020 Player of the Year. I'm also extremely thankful for the help of friends and family during this difficult financial time. You know who you are!” - Stephen A. Slater, Second Horn
“Getting outside and enjoying nature: walking the Elizabeth River Trail, exploring local and state parks, gardening, meeting friends outside. Additionally, I connect with at least one person a day, either past or present friends.” - George Corbett, Second Oboe/English Horn
“I've kept busy with two special projects. Gardening....my backyard was an overgrown forest, so I've gradually transformed it to look like a park! And, volunteering my time teaching an autistic student, who has exceptional musical abilities, to read music.” - Elizabeth Roberts, Bassoon/Contrabassoon
How has your practice or musical life at home changed during the furlough?
“I've learned one new solo piece and revisited a bunch of earlier work. I'm including pizzicato work so I don't lose calluses. (Some of those Pops Shows we present can do a number on soft skin!)”- Tom Reel, Double Bass
“I finally have the time to learn, or re-learn, some violin music that I've always wanted to play! I also have a nice small viola, perfect for my violinist's technique. I often spend time reading through some solo viola music just to get to know the instrument better. It's really been fun.” - Allegra Tortolano Havens, Violin
“There was a lot of resentment towards music and musical life at the beginning of the pandemic, unfortunately. I kept my horn in its case for a bit longer than I would like to admit. It was a natural and human reaction to what was going on. There was a lot of shame involved in that too, but I think it was needed and what I had to do for my mental health. Slowly and surely I started to play again, with new eyes and ears. My love for music quickly gained momentum, both in practice and in listening to the music that was being produced throughout these last 10 months. I remember RuPaul saying once, and I'm paraphrasing: "The best art is birthed from the greatest adversity." This rings truer today than any other.” - Stephen A. Slater, Second Horn
“Initially, it allowed me some time off from playing oboe, but once I returned I have been exploring some solo repertoire that I have either always wanted to work on or recently discovered. Additionally, I have been playing harpsichord more often to improve my skills.” - George Corbett, Second Oboe/English Horn
“I took a long break, but now I'm thrilled to be playing again. Also, in normal times, I am on the road, driving back and forth from the Charlottesville area to play with the VSO. I have put a lot less miles on my car over the past year. It has been nice to be home, but I miss playing with everyone.”
- Elizabeth Roberts, Bassoon/Contrabassoon