March 24, 2020

Dear Friends,
To say that the past few weeks have brought change to our world would be a gross understatement. In a period of just a few weeks our world has been turned upside down: international borders have been closed, industries have slowed to a halt, grocery stores have run out of basic supplies, schools have closed and all of us have been asked to stay at home and practice “social distancing.” In the midst of all of these disruptions however, one inescapable fact seems to have emerged: that no matter how fearful we are and no matter what horrifying statistics the morning news may bring, we continue to have a deep and life-sustaining need for connection.

As a musician, I have based my life and work on the value and importance of connectedness. Although there are arguably some musical pursuits which are solitary in nature, it is in our connections – the rehearsals, the concerts, the conversations, the arguments, the sharing – that we experience the true meaning and value inherent in a musical life. I know that you are as shocked and saddened as I am by the circumstances that have overcome our world as a result of the COVID-19 virus. But while our priorities have been drastically reorganized due to matters largely beyond our control, I believe that we are still (perhaps now more than ever) actively seeking those moments of connectedness that bring resonance and beauty to our lives.

During this period that seems to be fraught with chaos, I would like to offer a recommendation for maintaining our collective sanity: continue in whatever way you can to enjoy and sustain your musical life. My personal prescription for my own sanity has been 1) to listen to music constantly, 2) to engage in daily score study, 3) to compose, 4) to rediscover an intense relationship with the piano, and 5) to engage with others online in musical conversations and activities. This regimen seems to be serving me well and I am recommending a dose of it for all of us.

I will look forward to connecting with all of the orchestra members in the days ahead. Please take care of yourselves physically and emotionally. Song and I send our best wishes and prayers for continued good health to each and every one of you.

C. Johnston