At the weekend a bunch of us, all pianists, got together to be sociable and listen to one another play some live music. One of us had realised that the layout of her house offered the opportunity for us to obey current rules while still enjoying some piano music. Her piano was near the French windows. With the windows open, we could sit outdoors in the garden yet be quite close to whoever was playing.
The weather has been unkind lately, but this was a pleasant afternoon. We sat in the sun and listened while everyone took turns to play something they had been enjoying during lockdown.
Of course we hadn’t met for over a year, so first we had to get over the strangeness of being round the same table in person, testing out our rusty conversational skills. It was tempting to ask each person how they had coped with such an difficult year, but it became clear that this was not the right forum. People feel obliged to smile reassuringly and say, ‘I’ve been fine’; I heard myself saying it although that isn’t really how I feel. None of us has worked out the etiquette of answering such questions yet.
It was wonderful to be so near to live music being created in our presence. At one point, while listening to a Chopin nocturne, I had the impression of light pouring through the dark slats of a shuttered window. Live music is an amazing substance, material, current, or whatever one might call it. It hits you like fresh air.