Trying To Adapt To The New Normal

Recently I have been thinking about the relationship between the audience and the artist, and how this continues to develop and vary as a result of the ever-changing Covid-19 pandemic. I feel that the present situation isn’t likely to revert rapidly, so I have entered a new phase of thinking that is encouraging me to research, reflect, and explore new opportunities. In the quest to find inspiration for new projects and ideas. Today I wanted to share my thoughts on the question: What will the future conversations be like between the artist/s and the audience?

As an opera singer, I get a real buzz from performing live in front of a Theatre audience or the thrill of the more intimate immersive productions that I have been involved with. I love the immediacy of contact between the listener, whether that is through a moment of eye contact, a shared smile or inducing a chuckle. Even the odd distracted audience member can give you a nudge of energy that influences the performance. There is of course the special sound that occurs as a collection of hands come together to express a feeling of gratitude. Clapping bursts the atmosphere to remind you that you are sharing the space with a group of supportive people, who are willing to come on a journey with you. During a time whilst gathering in groups is restricted, how do I dream up ideas that allow for the experience of a live performance, whilst maintaining people’s safety.

To get a better understanding of what it is like to be a member of the audience during the current restrictions I decided to experience live performances that were on offer. Recently I watched two live performances, one in a socially distanced concert hall (A 60-minute recital held at Wigmore Hall, London) and the other from the comfort of my own home (An Operatic evening streamed from the Royal Opera House, London). Both events were performed live with a smaller socially distanced audience at the venue and attempted to encourage new-watchers from home.

I found that one of the positives of attending in person was that I had better focus. The audience sat quietly and encouraged me to soak up the music and devote my attention to the event at hand. I felt that collectively we created a supportive atmosphere for the music to be released into, and the artists (Gweneth Ann Rand, soprano and Simon Lepper, piano) took inspiring risks that provoked personal sensory reactions, such as the hair on my arms standing up.

However, in contrast, when George and I watched the Live-streaming from the Royal Opera House, we enjoyed a more relaxed viewing experience. I was able to wear my “Comfies” and sip a cup of tea during the performance. Our view of the performance for the ticket price of £10.00 was fantastic. Cameras flicked between close-ups to extravagant wide shots that took in the set-designs and auditorium. The only way to achieve this during a live performance would be to run around the auditorium chasing empty seats during the event. I think I would prefer to sit calmly, and not be short of breath. It was interesting that we both wanted to discuss what we were seeing and share our immediate thoughts. Usually, this conversation would be saved for an interval or the trip back home, as you don’t want to disrupt the performers or your fellow listeners. So, this was an enjoyable aspect of having a private viewing. 

There is nothing quite like having a live audience, however, I am very aware that I need to look to the future and find solutions. In the coming year as an independent opera singer, I may need to create my own performance opportunities and not just wait for them to arise. I believe it is the Artist’s duty to adapt to the times and find the best way to communicate their message. With this in mind, which method of sharing art has resonated best with you so far? What would you like to see more of? What do you think hasn’t been explored yet? I want to hear your ideas and be inspired.

58 thoughts on “Trying To Adapt To The New Normal

  1. I wish you luck. There is no new normal and we have miles to go before there is even the merest semblance of one. Each of us will have to create a new Normal for ourselves, tailored to our own needs and abilities. It is the ones who, like you, were progressing in a career that I feel terribly frustrated for. One day, I hope the chance to see you sing again will arise (only not in that opera at the Royal Northern College…) as that will tell me that the path has once more been forged.

    1. There are people performing right now Martin to small audiences in the companies supported by grants like Glyndebourne and The Royal Opera House. It makes me happy to read that and about my friends working in Switzerland and Germany but at the same time it makes me anxious. This is when you wish you were back in college and full of optimism.

      Best wishes

    1. A couple of days ago the Vaccine Taskforce said there were 11 vaccines in the final stages of testing but that this isn’t the be all and end all for covid. It could take a whole year. All this negativity is draining for people and just as people started getting out again they started to close everything back down. Let’s hope things are better by next February and remain optimistic.

      Best wishes

      1. Yes, it’s going to be with us for a while! We are are at 50k new daily cases and a national lockdown starts tonight supposedly until 1 Dec but they slipped in the caveat until we reduce to 5k daily cases 🙁

  2. I am pondering similar questions. I agree I don’t think the situation will revert any time soon, and that some sort of “new normal” is continuing to evolve. I gave up one regular restaurant venue, even though they eventually opened again for indoor dining, as giving an inside performance could not be risked. In season, there will be outside socially distanced shows, but those are not quite the same as the intimate coffeehouse/restaurant circuit. A lot of people will be trying to get those fewer shows, so I think the competing artists will have be able to demonstrate their uniqueness and be able to work with that, especially solo women artists.

    My guess is that recordings and videos will have to do for the most part, at least in my case for now, and will be a labor of love. The growing season with all its work, as well as raging forest fires are behind us now, and I be focusing more on what to do for the music. Outside and online may be the new way of the future. This won’t be the only pandemic to come along.

    Wishing you success and good health. <3

    1. I feel like a truffle hunter, trying to sniff out every opportunity, not much is being put out for open audition. Good luck to you Lavinia and stay safe and well.

      Best wishes

  3. I know this year has been so stressful for so many people, however one thing I have enjoyed is the increasing amount of webinars from the Wildlife Trusts. If you were to do an online concert, you could ask the audience to pay for a ticket and enjoy from the comfort of their own home. I’ve seen lots of Facebook lives and enjoyed these too. If Kylie Minogue can sell tickets to an online concert, so can you! Good luck xx

    1. Aww thank you Christine I love Kylie Minogue not quite in that league but I loved the comparison anyway. I do have my thinking cap on, I’m going to have to make this happen for myself.

      Best wishes

  4. I live in the US and watch your videos and love them. I would love to see you live someday. I can listen to you constantly. Until this mess passes I think nothing live is going to happen for 2 years. These viruses seem to take that long to go away. I want to see you live someday.

    1. Thank you, Randy, that was lovely to read. I’m still practising every day, learning new material, working on technique. I will put something together for people to watch online and George and I have been practising recording so watch this space.

      Best wishes

  5. I was at a Polish wedding recently and I was amazed to turn around and see that the violin music was actually being played from behind and above us from the gallery where the organ usually sits. I turned to look because it sounded amazing; it made the wedding so much more intimate.
    But I know meeting together like this is not the norm now. This makes it all the more special when you do.
    Perhaps an outside performance could seranade shoppers as they pass by or day trippers in the park or at the beach. Maybe it would bring us together in a way that keeping us apart can’t prohibit. I’m thinking of old songs that we all know, share memories of, so we can cry together and laugh together again.

    1. I love to hear strings at a wedding, our friends that play in George’s trio were going to play for us at our wedding in June. There was talk recently that busking was going to be banned I think the musician union was fighting it.

      I have about three project ideas but I don’t have the know how to get the arts funding so I’m going to have to get my act together but I’m also working part-time to pay the bills so I feel like I’m spinning. Nothing new there though lol.

      Best wishes

  6. Nothing beats being in the same space, in the same moment, as a performer. With opera leading the way in the recent years the cinema live-streaming from the MET etc has added the excitement of multiple views and close-ups with the edginess of a live performance – but with the loss of sharing the same air waves, however I think there is now a new and genuine hybrid evolving. Since lockdown. We have watched a recorded performance of the 2019 (?) Opera Holland Park Ballo and loved it, but we on our sofa we did talk a bit. Similarly, we saw the Glyndebourne Vanessa (Barber), which we had seen live in 2018. Then a week or so ago we ‘attended’ the live-streamed RCM gala. We watched and listened on my laptop, silent and mesmerised during the playing and singing. This felt very different, although clearly the performance parts had been recorded. We did feel in some way present and that they were performing for us and not for a camera. Last week we watched a filmed performance of a one man play directed as both play and film by our daughter, Elly Green. This we watched silently on our separate computers and it felt like being in a theatre. I think this hybrid hinges on the singers/actors performing for a live audience – even though they are absent. That audience buys tickets and attends on particular nights that correspond to a run. You fail to attend, you don’t get to see it, but when you attend, your presence is noted. (Sorry – long comment).

    1. I’ve always watched the MET streaming it is brilliant. I’ve attempted to get an audition with OHP and Glyndebourne but since I left college, I don’t hear of the opportunities to audition.
      Lovely to hear that Elly has found a way to continue to work, is the film on open view I’d love to watch? If she ever wants to do a one woman show give her my details 😊. I can understand you listening and watching separately because the temptation to talk when just watching the tv is too big.

      I loved reading your message and giving me more to think about.
      Best wishes

  7. Watching concerts live or on the TV both have their merits but, live concerts definitely carry the best atmosphere! Hopefully we can look forward to the return of them. 😘

    1. It is a shame British weather is so unpredictable in the winter for outside events. I’ll find a way to make something happen.

      Best wishes to you and Terry, stay safe and well,

  8. It seems to me that there will be a blending of live and private that shall actually increase awareness. Still, as a performer, I am more than aware of the connection between live audience and moment. I am convinced you shall play to many a live audience in the future and that those performances shall bless as even wider audience from a distance.

    1. Thanks Annette, to take two years out at this stage of my career isn’t good, I’ve kept busy up to now. The balcony performances for the first sixteen weeks of lockdown were a godsend but they don’t pay the bills and I’ve had to take on paid work but it is very good because I can take time out of that when performing work pops up. I’ve got my thinking cap on.

      Best wishes

  9. In a physical venue or remotely, Charlotte, you always perform so well! Great that you discuss with George about “what’s next” in your always evolving career. Go for it, my friend! 🙂

    1. Thank you my friend 😊. I am trying to go for it, watch this space.

      Best wishes as always

  10. Hi. We’ve done about everything. Songs from home. Songs from home as part of benefit. Live in a studio with a couple other musicians. They all get boring to everyone. Others have tried drive in concerts. Some have tried limited live shows because they need the money, except nobody makes money from those.

    A friend charges USD 20 for her live show which you can see for a week. She plays and sings, while a partner reviews comments and song requests. She talks to her audience and plays requests if she knows them.

    Given the most musicians– my musical miss included — need the exchange of energy it’s not really working for anybody

    We knew that in 2012 when we played at The Roundhouse in London for Apple’s iTunes festival. We had an audience which helped, but was low energy when we played it back.

    No real answers here except to confirm the need of a live audience musicians exchange.


    1. I’d love to do a drive-in concert the ENO did one with their top talent which went down well. I’ve heard the same thing about limited audiences unless you can get arts council funding to top up the missing seats revenue. I’ve never tried to get funding before so it’s a big learning curve to do alone – I applied for a musician fund at the start but because my parents had put their wedding reception savings in my bank account a couple of months before the cancelled wedding and I was honest I wasn’t eligible.

      Your friends show sounds a good idea well done to her. It is the exchange of energy, and working as a team I miss. Thanks for your thoughts Ray.

      Best wishes

  11. There’s no substitute for that communal experience of transcendence together, whether it be in worshipping the Holy One, cheering an athletic event, or embracing an artistic performance as it unfolds.
    I think, too, of singing in a chorus and feeling a more accomplished voice behind me breathing through me and carrying me along, as happens in an unrehearsed Messiah sing or, sometimes, as I might also do through another near me.
    I really do miss real rehearsals and warmups, to say nothing of Quaker worship and committee sessions.
    Well, in the meantime I am viewing many of the night Met’s amazing streamed performances, though they are more like revelatory movies than the experience of being there in person.
    Charlotte, my best wishes in however this thing evolves. It’s a real trial for your entire generation. We can’t go on like this forever.

    1. Jnana I know exactly what you mean I love singing the Messiah both in chorus and as soloist soprano its electric. I miss rehearsals, group meetings, dance classes, yoga classes (although I have a great Pilates teacher that does on-line classes that is doing amazing things for my posture and core strength). My friend encouraged me to join her church group online last Sunday to lift my spirits and it was very nice, I also do a group language lesson online weekly that I enjoy.

      I too watch the MET performances and sit and dream. The thought of two years out of action is a drag but I refuse to be dragged down by it and I will get something going.

      Best wishes

  12. A lot of performing artists are trying to figure this out. Another blogger mentioned Leland Sklar’s site. Leland is a session bass player who has played bass for all the name artists. He added a section to his website called Lee’s Playhouse at (I don’t know anything about, but it might be worth checking out what they have to offer), and he charges $10/month for regular access and $75/month for a VIP Pass that gives you direct access to Leland. On # 12 of his YouTube podcasts ( called “I’m Pissed Off” Leland talks about how followers got upset over him charging for access to his clubhouse. He talks about how he loves sharing with viewers, but that he can’t monetize YouTube because every song he’s played on is copyrighted by the artist he played for. He gets blocked a lot on YouTube and has to call the singer to get unblocked. Can you imagine simply calling Carly Simon and asking her to get the video you are doing of her song unblocked? He mentioned in one video, maybe that one, that COVID erased a year of work for him. You know how that goes. What I thought about when I was listening to podcast # 12, is that everyone loves you when you are free. Ask for money for sharing you talent and experience? “How dare you.!” It sad and puts a lot of talented people in a bad spot. I think what he’s charging is reasonable for access to a person with so much experience and a person who has access to so many top talents in the music industry. If I was an aspiring bass player, I’d jump on that.

    I really hope you can find a good path in what you are calling the “New Normal.” I think it’s temporary, but it certainly will be awhile before anything like the old normal resurfaces.

    1. Indeed everyone can sell a free concert, musicians are often asked to perform for free, especially when in college of straight out of college to get experience but that doesn’t keep a roof over your head or food in your belly.

      I hear him about YouTube people monetise some of my videos and some of them aren’t even their songs so I don’t know how they do that when I didn’t put advertisements on them? I’ve got my leaf blower out to try to clear a path now it’s a bit covered but I’m on a mission.
      Best wishes

  13. Hmm, it is hard to say. I have watched several live YouTube shows (including, of course, your balcony concerts). That has been really fun when a huge international star shows their human side. Outdoor, amphitheater, socially spaced – always great. or perhaps a historically significant place and music that matches. I don’t know. One thing I do know, watching your videos and listening to your music, you are very much a performer and come alive when there is an audience. Maybe an odd, double-computer thing where you have a limited Zoom audience that you can see and respond to on a large screen TV, but the other computer is going live to YouTube? A luck 25 or 50 can “be there” with you, while a larger audience can watch either live or later on YouTube.How do you make money? No idea, but there has to be a way…. Maybe a Patreon like model? Anyway, good luck – I’m sure there is something out there! And finding that new and different is one advantage of you being young.

    1. I’ve always been a futuristic person Trent, ready to take on the new and unusual projects, this light lockdown is challenging but I’m up for a challenge and I thank you for your thoughts. George has been loaned a piano to try out before we buy one so at least we can improve the sound on home recordings now.

      Best wishes

  14. I really hope you can find a way to experience what you need and want. My art is visual, my photography, so it is hard to relate other than I love it when my work makes someone happy. That was a great post with a lot of good insight. Thank you!

    1. Thank you, Tim., So difficult for photographers right now with a lot of the wedding industry being shut. Photo art is lovely, I love browsing my blog friends who show me parts of the world I just wouldn’t see without them.

      My best wishes to you

  15. You know I am always supportive of your plans. You have the concern for your audience as well as your craft, add your ambition and personal strength – and you are a sure winner. Now, you even have George – and added plus!!

    1. Thank you GP 😊. My mind is working at 100mph I just don’t know how to achieve what I want to do right now but I’m reading, watching and learning as much as possible. I still practise every day I just have to fit even more in.

      Best wishes

  16. There are definitely bonuses to both sides. Recently we viewed a show from home that we could stream any time over 3 days. We watched it in the morning with a hot cup of coffee. It was wonderful. The cats were curled up with us and we could pause as needed.
    On the other hand, there is nothing like a live performance. Being part of the shared laugh, or gasp of a performance is amazing. What I really like, though, is the sound. Nobody seems to get the sound right in a recording. I just feel removed from the show.
    Anyway, I hope you are doing well and your album is coming along. Can’t wait to get it!!!!!
    – In other news – books 1 and 2 are selling well. (Misfit Mage, Melee Mage). I got in a period of funk and found it hard to write, no idea why, but now that seems to be lifting and I’ve finished chapter 4 and on to chapter 5 in the 3rd novel. Woot!

    1. I like that about watching streaming too Michael, its like watching Amazon Prime or Netflix instead of going to the cinema, not quite the same event but comfy.

      I love immersive opera when the audience is up close and involved. When we did Candide at the outdoor Minack theatre on the cliff edge in Cornwall it was amazing! Working with the babies in BambinO made each show an new experience just brilliant I miss it.

      There are delays because so many people are wanting to put out albums right now there is a backlog and because of covid the co-ordinators are beavering away at home where things just take longer. Keep your fingers crossed for us.

      Happy to hear your books are selling well, I hate funky periods they drain you so I’m glad to hear it’s lifting, keep on keeping on Michael.

      Best wishes

  17. I know there many differences between watching live concert and streaming. There are pro and con for each and as you pointed out few above with watching streams at home. For movies however, I am 100% prefer watching at home at my own comfort.

    1. I still enjoy watching movies on a big screen but I do like to watch the odd movie at home too. I used to like to go to watch the opera from The Met on the cinema in Glasgow as it was close to where I lived.

      Best wishes

  18. Like author Taggart, above, I prefer live performances, since I write mostly works (~24, so far) for the stage and inflict my acting on audiences whenever possible.

    There used to be theaters where each seat was connected to a rheostat that the viewer could turn up or down to reflect his/her opinion of what was being presented at any time. (It was used for ad and marketing purposes, not for electronic boo-yay performance rating.)

    I’m pretty sure someone has proposed doing the same thing with video performances. Every watcher could enter a number or press a key to indicate delight and/or applause. The analog or digital signals could be combined and used to simulate actual applause at the end of a song or performance. This may already be in use somewhere. Two-way video could be added, but performers don’t (IMHO) need the ability to see a continuous, hi-res image of each and every audience member. Cycling images around the auditorium might suffice and require less bandwidth.

    1. Rheostat is interesting, terrifying and interesting at the same time lol. YouTube have people like enjoy putting down thumbs on videos. Very interesting ideas Jeff. I do enjoy listening to applause – me bad 😊.

      Best wishes

  19. Charlotte,
    I adore your positive energy and attitude!
    Yes, things won’t change for awhile, and many of us are trying to figure out a new path for ourselves.
    Living with a musician/performer for many years, I understand the relationship between the audience and artist, not just from the audience’s POV, but the artist’s as well.
    As a Costume Designer, there is a thrill for me to see my work on a stage for live performance, or, even a movie sound stage. It might be third hand, but there is a connect where I feel support for my efforts.

    Thinking of new vehicles is challenging. Someone will come up with something.
    We have lots of space in Canada, and performers are doing live performances at Drive-In Theatres. The audience is in their cars, and if they come out of them, they wear masks and socially distance.
    Unlike other outdoor stages, as it gets colder here, the audience can stay in their cars with heaters on.
    So, not so much clapping, but LOTS of honking. I love it!
    The performers seem to get a lot of connect out of it.
    Some of the Drive-ins hold hundreds of cars. The performances are recorded, and streamed, as well.
    Be well!
    You look cute in a mask.
    I’ll bet George does, too!

    1. I just can’t stand being grumpy Resa, there is nothing that makes a performance quite like brilliant costuming, stage design and props, without them shows just don’t have the same impact.

      The ENO in England did a drive in performance using all their big names it went down a treat but I don’t think things will open up for freelancers like that, who knows I wouldn’t say no it looked like great fun.

      I have a few masks now that I can wash I don’t like the disposable ones they seem so bad for the environment. George is cute in his mask we even have orange matching ones he bought lol.

      Best wishes

      1. Best wishes Charlotte.
        Times are crazy.
        Have you worn your matching masks together, yet? lol
        I’ve made a couple of washable masks, and I have a face shield.
        I live in an unfortunate area, since Covid.
        I’m surrounded by 2 tent cities filled with homeless people. The government has tested the folks there, and the Covid is 90%.
        They’ve name them Camp Covid, but have nowhere else to put these people.

        No wonder I like drawing my “Gowntoons”! Lots of fun!

      2. Yes we wore our bright orange masks to an opera performance lol. I think our homeless people were all put into hostels, hotels and guest houses. Will they do something similar do you think during this second lockdown or don’t you have that in Canada?

        I love your gowntoons. I should have some time this weekend to finally catch up with you and my blog friends.

        All of my best wishes Charlotte

  20. This too shall pass. Come a vaccine, live show biz will come back just as it has over the centuries. It has survived other killer diseases, wars, government bans, etc. Your songs from the balcony will revert back to songs sung to the balcony.
    Until then, Charlotte, have faith and you and George Stay Safe.

    1. Keeping the faith Don, thank you for your boost of positivity. I prepared a couple of outdoor concerts that then got cancelled it does chip away even at an optimistic person like me, bounced back up again though :).
      Best wishes

  21. It is great to hear about how you view an audience, the perspective you have is a special one. I could see how you would get a real buzz from performing live in front of a Theatre audience, especially because such interaction sets the scene (not really the case in sports)… So adapting to the new normal is something I believe you will be able to do quicker than others, because of both your optimism and insights on connections with others. Wish you well.

    1. Thank you Randall that is lovely to read. I’m not wasting my none performing time, I’m using the space to do some work on my singing that I always wish I had time for.
      Best wishes

  22. Being on or off stage is quite an experience.
    Now, “off-stage”? I often close my eyes for a good while at a concert. Allows me to better focus on each instrument or performer. Try it next time. 🎶

    1. Good advice. I do this, and to listen back to my own recordings, singing lessons. Sometimes during the lesson I’m unsure what the teacher is wanting from me so really listening with my eyes closed allows me to concentrate.
      My very best wishes

  23. Oh, Charlotte! Life is so hard for you at the moment! I do so admire your fighting spirit and your willingness to learn new methods and ways of getting your music heard. I am sure it won’t be too long before we will have live performances again with large audiences. I have been listening to a few live concerts on the radio, including most of the ones from the Wigmore Hall; I am so glad even just a few musicians have been able to perform. However, they are the very lucky few. Your balcony concerts were wonderful but would be difficult to do during the winter months. I am sure people would be willing to pay to watch you and George perform on a live-streaming channel if you could manage to get something like that going. How difficult or expensive that would be, I don’t know.
    Best of luck, my dear xx

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