In this time of quarantine or lockdown, in Spain and some other countries, the balconies of apartment blocks have become an improvised stage where we connect, at a distance, with our neighbours and local community. Apart from clapping the health care professionals, there are moments of spontaneity which bring joy and a welcome break from the tension and uncertainty we are all facing during this unusual spring.
Where I live we don’t have balconies, but we open our windows to clap at 8:00 p.m. every evening. Some neighbours have windows that look out onto the street and can see the ambulances and the local police station. The rest of us face an enclosed interior patio surrounded by several blocks of flats. It might seem that we are clapping each other, but I’m sure it can be heard from the street. It also gives us the chance to see our neighbours’ faces and make sure everyone is doing okay. Or nearly everyone, because some of our neighbours’ relatives have fallen victim to the virus.
In normal times the patio would be full of children playing, grandparents sitting on benches, neighbours talking, the concierge working; now, for the most part, it is deserted.
But two of our neighbours, sisters, had a wonderful idea. Why not put on a concert in the patio? There would be no problem with social distancing as everyone would be in their own homes and the sisters (who live in the same house) would be down in the patio. So, that is what they did, on two separate occasions. Both of them are accomplished musicians. Veronica plays the violin and Diana the cello.
They have a very varied repertoire. In the first concert they played Viva la vida by Coldplay, Wake me Up by Avicii, Despacito, and Michael Jackson’s Smooth Criminal. It was a huge success, and the neighbours loved it. Veronica tells us how the idea came about:
“Initially, our idea was just to while away the time at home and also to cheer up the neighbourhood community. Our dad was in hospital and it was a way to take our minds off things.”
Veronica and Diana’s father was seriously ill with the virus and spent two weeks in hospital and then in isolation at home. Finally, his Covid-19 test came back negative, and he has now fully recovered.
The girls prepared several pieces for a second concert: Pirates of the Caribbean, Don’t Stop me Now by Queen and Game of Thrones. But, tragically, another member of the family caught the virus, and this time didn’t pull through. Veronica continues:
“We planned on giving the second concert the following week, but then our grandmother died and we didn’t feel up to it. That week, some neighbours asked us to give another concert as spirits were falling in the community and when we posted in one of the WhatsApp groups that we would put on another mini-concert (and record it in Instagram Direct), one of our friends wrote to ask us to include a theme that is usually played at funerals so he could dedicate it to his grandmother who had recently died.”
“That was when we thought we could also dedicate a piece to our own grandmother and to all those who had died during this time, but instead of choosing a funeral march we opted for something that conveyed hope: The Swan by Saint-Saëns. My sister had already studied it and we thought it was a very moving piece, conveying the symbolism of the transformation of a swan. It seemed perfect for the occasion.”
The concert was very moving, especially when the girls played the piece dedicated to their grandmother and the other relatives and friends we have lost during this time. No-one can deny that we are going through a difficult and tragic spring, but there are moments when you catch a glimpse of light, a spark of hope, and that is what we experienced through these concerts. Thank you Vero and Diana for using your musical talent to bring joy to our community.