Like many musicians, I played my last live performance in the beginning of March before the shutdown for Covid-19 occurred in Connecticut. It was a glorious chamber concert including the Ravel Introduction and Allegro, and as we finished the program, I had no idea how long it would be before I would be playing in person again! The lockdown began shortly after that concert, and one by one orchestra concerts, choral programs, chamber concerts, educational programs, and various weddings and parties were all canceled or postponed. It was a scary time, as I know it was for so many musicians around the country and around the world, as we saw work disappear, and found ourselves unable to perform for the foreseeable future.
Two months later, as conditions eased, my first live performance began with a last-minute call from a lovely person looking to make her boyfriend’s birthday special. Would I be willing to go to his home the next day, set up my harp and a small amp in his driveway and play Happy Birthday for him? Just that one song! It would be a surprise – his son would be there, and I would call the son and let him know I was ready, and he and his Dad would come out to hear Happy Birthday! And, since his girlfriend was not able to be in the area, could I also get some balloons.
So, I called a local store and ordered balloons for a morning curbside pick-up (and found out it is somewhat distracting to drive with balloons floating around the car!) and I drove to the house. Fortunately, it was a nice day, and the driveway was flat and level, and I set up the harp about 15 feet from the front door, tuned up, tied the balloons to the front railing, and called the son. He and his father came and stood on the front step and listened and recorded me, and then we chatted from the distance. It turns out the Birthday gentleman was a well-known rap and hip-hop artist who is now known for his successful producing work, and he was surprised and delighted to hear the harp music. I played as they went back into the house, packed up and headed for home. As I drove away, I felt immensely happy to have been able to perform again – with my two songs and my audience of two. But I felt I had connected with my listeners and added something special to the day for them, and I know they had given me a gift, too!