We’ve enjoyed selecting pieces tied together by a theme or a place over the past two weeks. Since the West End is temporarily shut, George and I thought we could bring a taste of the West End to the Courtyard with a selection of pieces from Musical Theatre Shows.
Growing up I was a huge fan of Doris Day and the classic Musical movies, like Calamity Jane, and live stage shows such as Cats, Wizard of Oz, and Phantom of the Opera. I particularly enjoyed Calamity Jane, as the story featured a fierce lady with a big heart who learned how to find strength and love in vulnerability. I personally think that as a performer allowing yourself to be vulnerable on stage, in the sense of releasing your emotions honestly, creates a special bond between you and your audience. Over the last 10 weeks, I have felt this connection with our audience and this bond has made me feel supported and encouraged me to take more risks during live performance. Such as holding my notes as long as I can and singing quietly.
I want to take a moment to thank you for listening and sharing this unknown journey with us. We will continue to experiment with how we can make and share music, whilst prioritising people’s safety. You can listen to our tenth balcony concert below:
If I Loved You (Carousel) The Deadwood Stage (Calamity Jane) Secret Love (Calamity Jane) Memory (Cats) Popular (Wicked) Think Of Me (Phantom of the Opera) Encore: Don’t Rain On My Parade (Funny Girl)
This Friday marked the 75th Anniversary of Victory in Europe Day, a celebration of the peace in Europe that followed the end of World War 2 and brought an end to the tragic loss of life and the suffering that was endured by so many.
Despite the restrictions on public celebrations, it was lovely to see people engage virtually with this historic moment in different ways. From acknowledging the 2 minutes silence at 11am, to organising a “safe-distanced” street parties with bunting and sweet treats to share.
George and I wanted to remember loved ones whose lives were changed immeasurably by the events of World War 2. To celebrate the freedom, we are so lucky to have and the lasting peace we so gratefully enjoy, all thanks to the courage of many by singing three songs that we felt caught the atmosphere of the day.
We’ll gather Lilacs, Danny Boy and We’ll Meet Again.
We combined these three songs with one of our favourite English Songs, Love’s Philosophy. Fun Fact – this poem by Percy Bysshe Shelley will feature as part of our delayed wedding favours.
We decided to finish with a flourish of Operetta, Art is Calling for Me and we hope that you enjoy our programme.
Preparing for rain, Felt safe under the brolly. Did not predict wind! C. Hoather & G. Todica
As April was ending and Summer approaches, I find that under the current lock-down one day starts to merge with the next. For us, having our Friday Balcony Concerts for our friends and neighbours has helped to give George and me a definite end to each week and something to work towards, which has been so important for us both to remain focused.
Last Friday just before our concert, at around 17:20 we began our set-up. We sellotaped our back-up camera to the plant pot frame because the live stream failed in week four and placed a stand ready to hold my iPhone to live-stream the 6th Balcony Concert, when the weather took an unexpected turn. I was in the kitchen at the time, cleaning dishes calmly, when George shouted from the other room “OH NO, RAIN!” We dashed out without a moment to spare, to protect the camera and keyboard at all costs! Within minutes we started to prepare for the worst and we dug out all of the brollies in our home. We experimented with different contraptions built from what we had in our flat, settling for the unlikely marriage of clothes hanger stands, graduation scroll holder (thanks RCS) and umbrellas (oh, the things you can create last minute when you apply a little improvisation and plenty of duct tape).
As the clocks struck 18:00, all seemed well. So, we began and managed to keep performing despite the weather’s mood swings. If you haven’t time to watch the full concert and you’d like a giggle, jump to my Mary Poppins wannabe moment around 13 minutes in!
Repertoire this week:
Let it Go (Disney – Frozen) a personal favourite of George’s young nephew Marcu
Nella Fantasia (Ennio Morricone)
Muttertändelei (R. Strauss)
Schlagende Herzen (R. Strauss)
Mein Herr Marquis – (J. Strauss – Die Fledermaus)
This was the first time I’d ever sung ‘Let It Go’ and ‘Mein Herr Marquis’ which I’ve been working on for a couple of weeks, so I hope that you enjoy them.
Just before the lock-down George’s friend helped us out by building a couple of IKEA flat-pack cupboards to help store all of our music books, sheet music and scores in. However, the third cupboard which was due to be delivered just as we found ourselves entering lock-down, was put on hold. This week it finally arrived and so we decided to try and put it up ourselves. I discovered how to use a drill and the importance of following instructions (or not LOL). Finally, the last cupboard is now up and attached safely to the wall even though I did have to unwind the screw and put in a raw plug – who even knew such a thing existed, thanks Dad, I even put in an automatic light and push to open thingymabobs and I am feeling very proud of my achievement (with a little help from George of course)!
This Friday marked our fourth balcony concert, and it has been a real joy to sing to my neighbours and friends online alongside George. Despite being limited to our own home for a few weeks now, it has been a breath of fresh air to feel close to the lovely people who live near me. I feel connected to a bigger community, a neighbourly relationship that reminded me of my childhood as we grew up with lovely neighbours and were in and out of each others homes, George also grew up in a really close community where all the neighbours knew each other
As a musician, who practises at home, I was nervous about upsetting my neighbours during the lockdown. I limited my singing hours to be conscious of those around me and I made adaptations to my home such as hanging homemade sound panels (created by George!) above our electric piano. After our first concert, we were overjoyed to feel the support and encouragement from our neighbours and the request for more music. We even received some chocolates, flowers and even beautiful drawings from our little neighbour upstairs.
On one of her art pieces, she told us that her favourite song was ‘Baby Shark’. So as our encore to four American Songs by Aaron Copland and Glitter and Be Gay by Bernstein George and I sang, (with all the actions) ‘Baby Shark’ for our little friend above us.
Unfortunately, our live stream dropped out during the concert cutting the recording short but one of our new friends filmed the encore on their phone. I hope you enjoy the clip.
Following our short performance last week George and I performed our second balcony concert on Friday 3rd April for our neighbours as we all continue to come to terms with staying at home here in the U.K.
Our song selection this week included a mix of styles to try and please a wide audience of tastes. The pieces that George and I performed were:
I Feel Pretty, from West Side Story, by Bernstein
I Could Have Danced All Night, from My Fair Lady, by Loewe
A Piper, by Head
O Waly, Waly (folk song) – for my blog friend Hilary, who suggested it.
O Luce Di Quest’anima, from Linda Di Chamounix, by Donizetti – for a sprinkling of Opera
However, after feedback from last week, we decided to trial live streaming on YouTube. The idea was suggested as our neighbours in our development, who do not face into our courtyard, got in touch and asked if there was a chance, we could share it with them online. So we researched how we could do this and decided to experiment with YouTube Live as I already had an account with them which I use on my blog from time to time.
We set up my phone to capture our performance in the corner of our balcony using a stand with a phone adapter screwed into the top – a little bit of repurposing with pieces that we already had at home. For this our first attempt at live streaming we decided to film live using the unlisted feature, which means people can only watch with a link. We copied and pasted this into our Neighbourhood Facebook page and then let rip.
Moving forwards we hope to share our third balcony concert with you all publicly via my YouTube Chanel. It will take place between 18:00-18:30, weather permitting (UK time) on Friday 10th April. We would love for you to tune in and celebrate music and people coming together during this difficult time.
I took inspiration this week from the videos of people
sharing music on their balconies during the quarantine in Italy. I saw these
videos on my Facebook newsfeed and I found them so moving and thought that they
really celebrated community spirit.
On the Facebook group of our apartment block, there was a request to do something similar at our shared home. So, George and I said that we would be happy to get involved. One resident was worried that as everyone has different tastes in music that we should be careful not to disrupt the normally peaceful atmosphere. Our small community has families with young children, elderly residents and homeworkers so I thought this was a very thoughtful comment and so I suggested that we limit the live music time to after normal working hours and pick a date so that there is as little disruption to everyone as possible.
So last Friday, 27th March at 18:00 George and I
were gearing ourselves up to take our electric piano onto the balcony and sing
Somewhere Over The Rainbow
Somewhere (West Side Story)
You’ll Never Walk Alone.
I must admit that I was a little nervous, I didn’t want to
upset anyone so I tried to pick songs that I thought most people could connect
with, whilst still sending a message of hope and togetherness. After all the
people I would be singing to are my neighbours. But we thought it was time to
be brave and try to do something nice for our community using the skills we
We set up and let rip. One by one, we saw windows open. People came out onto their balconies. One young woman in the courtyard who was on the phone began to share the experience with her loved one during their FaceTime call. There was a father dancing with his daughter. After we finished the first song, there was applause. It gave us the courage to continue and we started to perform our little hearts out. After the three songs, we were surprised to hear people ask for more and we said that we will try and perform again next Friday if the current situation doesn’t improve.
We were then surprised that our performance was filmed and shared by a few of our neighbours on our community Facebook group and this has allowed me to share this short video with you. Please continue to stay safe and healthy and know that you are each loved.
This week has been full of new challenges and insights. It’s
very easy to become consumed by the feelings of worry and dread at this moment
in time, but I am urging myself and my loved ones to try and find reasons to
Personally, my heart has been warmed by the kind gestures of the community that I live in. Due to our varied work routines, our apartment complex rarely gets the time to share communal conversations unless they are about possible items of furniture to be sold or upcoming resident meetings. But over the past week, I have seen people come together and selflessly offer their services to help those in most need in any way they could. Some of them offered to buy groceries for people who aren’t able to go outside. Online posts have been shared where you can find hard to source food that can still be bought locally, and people were even willing to share the food that they had in.
Residents have been promoting local shops, butchers and greengrocers and shared that the farmers market are offering deliveries. Our local Italian restaurant has set up a no-contact delivery service especially for the complex. Some people are offering help in other creative ways. Today a neighbour, who works in publishing offered books as gifts, of which George and I received, “The Truants” and “Norse Mythology”. I am really looking forward to reading them. George and I have been practicing our first dance for the wedding in our communal courtyard in the mornings for exercise and hopefully bringing a smile to people’s faces, whilst they are drinking their coffee. We are learning the Viennese Waltz and it is bringing us a little bit of happiness during a time of uncertainty.
What moments of kindness have you experienced this week?
On Saturday I took part in my first ever group online Pilates class! I usually go with my brother-in-law, Alex to “Greenwich Pilates” and it’s our special time together before my brother, Matt makes our brunch. I was so happy to still be able to do this. If you want to do an online exercise class, I thoroughly recommend my teacher Chiara, who is holding community classes online via a free application called Zoom https://m.facebook.com/chiarafavarettipilates/
How does it work? We all click onto a link and join the live session. The session involved over 5 different homes. The main screen is the teacher, and along the right-hand side is live thumbnail videos of each person completing the work out in real-time. So, remember to wear fitness clothes and not pyjamas 🙈.
I am in favour of YouTube videos for exercise and fitness
routines but the great thing about the live streaming is that we got immediate
personal feedback from the teacher and the friendly pressure to keep going when
the exercise gets hard as you are doing it as a team.
As a professional whose work is canceled due to restrictions on public gatherings, I think these online classes are a great alternative!
George and I have been sorting our music room today, we have been hanging pictures and our homemade acoustic Panels. We are offering online classes for singing/piano/music theory. Please email me if you are interested.
It would be a huge help if you could find time to stream a few of my tracks using your preferred streaming service, each time you do George and I get $0.003 per play but every little helps now that all of our work has been canceled for the foreseeable future.
If you have any links to audiobooks you have recorded, Kindle publications that you have published, or other online events or activities please add the links in the comments to this post to advertise where they can be found. It is so important to keep your mind active when you are forced to stay in so please do share with us anything that could be of interest.
Wherever you are and whatever you are doing this week stay