It seems that we are all united around the world with the feeling that we are caught in a vice that is tightening. Announcements in Canada, Israel, the U.S.., the E.U. and so many other places around the world seem to bring increasingly strict measures aimed at slowing the spread of the Coronavirus. We don't know how bad it is going to get or when it will be over. We might be reassured that parts of Asia seem to have been able to get it under control. On the other hand, we look at Italy, Spain, German and some other countries and it is very concerning. Things may get completely out of hand in the U.S. (and many other countries) very soon.
Here in Israel, much has been shut down. Restaurants, bars, malls and many other places. So many people are working from home. Grocery stores are open, drug stores, gas stations. As of yesterday, banks were moving to close most branches and do most things virtually. Health care workers are overwhelmed and are bracing for a sudden and massive explosion in the number of cases.
With all of these challenges, some musicians are doing their part to make the world a better place and bring some joy and happiness to people, many of whom are in self-isolation. Israeli's Channel 12 with Mako has been running a series of live concerts with no audience - held at Zappa Clubs in Israel. As you might know, Zappa is a chain of small concert venues - with night club seating and meal service. We have been to quite a number of concerts at different Zappa locations. The Zappa in Jerusalem is Kosher and has a great menu. And, of course, you are sitting very close to the performers with a great view. But I digress.
On Saturday night, Israel's Channel 12 broadcast a live show by Idan Raichel. It was just him and his piano - playing a half hour set and talking to the audience. He encouraged people to open their windows and sing along with their neighbours and then send recordings back to the Mako website and to him. Reichel was very cognizant of the messages he was sending. He performed alone and spoke about the need to follow the latest health directives while still enjoying life. It was really quite an excellent performance. "We have the capacity to bring out the best in ourselves when we all join together." That's my loose translation of one of his comments.
Last night, we watched Keren Peles perform. Another excellent performance. In contrast to Raichel, Peles had a bunch of other performers with her on stage (some sitting very close to her...despite the 3 metre recommendation...). She sang duets with a few different singers but also played some solo pieces. I wasn't as familiar with her music, but she was great. She mixed her wonderful piano playing with powerful, emotional vocals.
Mako/N12/Zappa are continuing to line up more concerts with Israeli performers in the coming days. It is really something that can bring a bit of smile after a day of hearing all kinds of terrible news reports.
Maybe this is something that the world will pick up on. I already saw that some North American performers were trying to line up a big virtual concert for April 1st, 2020. I also read a report that the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra had performed a live streaming concert to an empty hall.
With so many sports events shut down - and large scale events out of the question, maybe our musicians and their sponsors can help fill a void and bring a bit of music and joy to the hundreds of thousands of people who are stuck at home - either in self-isolation or as a result of current conditions.
Continued wishes for the best of health to everyone.