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 Philippe Quint, who is quarantined in Paris, has been spending his time in self-isolation rehearsing and thinking about life and music as he prepares for a series of upcoming live-streamed concerts.
How have you been using the quarantine to keep connected with your audience?
To be completely honest, I have not been very active since the quarantine began. My March tour of Asia was cut short as scheduled performances started to get canceled one after the other. First, I put my violin away. Then, I went through a number of different stages. At first, frustration and stage withdrawal kicked in, then apathy, followed by slowly re-adjusting to this new lifestyle that who knows how long is going to last. I am always curious and want to be informed, but I had to limit the flow of news in my life and that helped. These are unprecedented times that have presented a lot of time to reflect upon our lives, our planet, our responsibilities, and necessities as human beings.
Have you found a deeper meaning to all this?
Most people, like me, are trying to comprehend what is happening, but it’s not easy as there is never a logical explanation for loss of lives. But I always try to look for silver linings in the most difficult situations.
What will be the long-term impact on your career?
For us artists, teachers, and educators who have thrived on personal contact and live performances, there is going to be a great degree of modifying our common practices, and only time will show how things are going to change.
Tell me about your average day.
I’ve been spending a lot of time just thinking, reading, and listening to music. Oh, yes, I’ve also been able to catch up on some great TV shows and movies. Last week, I resumed practice and some social-media activity. I found myself drawn to Bach more than ever. I’ve always wanted to perform and record his Sonatas and Partitas, and I can’t imagine a better opportunity to learn those sonatas that I haven’t yet studied. Also, on my schedule, concertos by Berg, Ligeti, and Schoenberg. I’ve had great affinity for those composers and am hoping to delve into those scores. It is a very odd feeling not to rush to the airport, nor to have any forthcoming deadline. Part of me enjoys this “luxury” time, but I am anxious to get back onstage. More than ever, I appreciate what I do and am grateful to have had the opportunity to share my love of music with so many people over the years. It’s ironic that for many years, when people would ask me what is it like to travel 200 days a year, I’d usually answer, “If I could only do my concerts from home without travel—what a dream that would be!” Guess what? Not a joke anymore.
How have you selected your upcoming internet programming?
I now have several streams scheduled for my friends at the Violin Channel, GroupMuse, and a special streaming program for Lincoln Center in May. The programming will vary. A few seasons ago I was touring a solo-violin program that I loved. It included works by Bach, Virgil Thomson, Corigliano, Kreisler, Paganini, and Ysaye. I’ve started to slowly resurrect these pieces, as they are dear to my heart, and I plan to post some of those on social media eventually, along with some footage of older performances. I am also building my knowledge of technology. I am not so tech savvy, so I see this as an opportunity to learn more about programs, wires, microphones, computers, and so on.
What can we learn from this experience? Apparently a lot. From a social, environmental, political, and economic standpoint, the world will have a very different face when we return to what we used to know as “normal.” It’s important to stay active, positive, and connected with our audience. Remember those times when we were thinking, “Gosh, I just wish I had the time to do this or that.” Well, now we do. Let’s use it!