As told to Greg Cahill
Keep Connected chronicles the ways in which string players and organizations are supporting and keeping in touch with their audiences or students throughout the global coronavirus pandemic quarantine.
This week, concert violinist Daniel Hope, who is quarantined in Germany, discusses his virtual house concerts, livestreamed every day at noon (EDT) on the ARTE Concert YouTube channel and his own Facebook page.
What is your basic webcast set up?
I have converted my Berlin living room into a television studio with unmanned cameras and professional sound quality. For the last 16 nights in a row, I have broadcast a livestream for the ARTE Concert channel that can be viewed via Facebook and Youtube.
Why is it important to stay connected?
Like my colleagues, all my concerts have been cancelled for the foreseeable future. At the same time, it is very important that we all stay at home. This seemed like a good way to connect to one’s audience in times of “social distancing.”
How do you select your internet programming?
I have chosen music that is special to me, mostly classical, but also some jazz and film music from the 1930s, ’40s, and ’50s. I also have invited a series of guests to stop by on different evenings, one by one and with the required safety distance. One evening, the director Robert Wilson specially wrote and recited text that we juxtaposed with music by Arvo Pärt. This week, Christian Thielemann [chief conductor of the Staatskapelle Dresden and director of the Salzburg Easter Festival], conductor Simon Rattle, and [Czech mezzo-soprano] Magdalena Kožená will be stopping by, amongst many others.
What is the response like?
It has been absolutely overwhelming. We have had more than 500,000 streams and I am receiving hundreds of comments every day on social media and in private messages.
What have you learned from the experience?
There are so many people out there at the moment who respond emotionally to classical, live music. People also enjoy the interaction, sending in requests to which we have tried to respond. And our audience is completely global, young and old. It is inspiring and heart-warming.
Has the experience brought insight to your own playing?
It took a while to get used to what essentially feels like a recording, but is, in fact, a completely live concert to a far larger audience than you would have in a concert hall. One doesn’t hear the applause after a piece, instead people write “applause” on social media, or describe what a particular piece means to them. Then they view it up to two weeks after, in some cases repeatedly. So the concert experience is elongated. Of course, one becomes rather self-conscious about every note one produces, but at the end of the day, it is really like an intimate chamber-music house concert.
What is it like to be working and living like this?
It’s an adventure, and, of course, a challenge. At the moment I just feel privileged to be able to make music every night from home, and to broadcast it with excellent quality sound, around the world.
Any tips for other string players considering this path?
I am in awe of all my colleagues reaching out to their audiences at present. Whether that’s a stream from your kitchen on a cellphone or a fully produced studio recording. I would encourage people to try it: it keeps you very much on your toes!
How will you continue going forward as a player?
Every day as it comes.
Is there a message you’d like to share with our audience?
Let’s keep live classical music alive. That means all of us. Those who play it, listen to it, and write about it. Those who present it, too. We are all in the same boat right now. This is a time for solidarity. Stay home and stay safe!