Taking a musical pause
When the pandemic hit a year ago, live concerts of the Malta Philharmonic Orchestra went silent for a while, but we were eager and passionate to remain present in the lives of our audiences, so we adapted and soon enough our music came alive online.
Admittedly, 2020 was a musical challenge for us, but I look back and am proud of what our national orchestra succeeded in achieving — a digital transformation reaching 11 million unique listeners last year, which was a 93 per cent increase in reach over previous years.
This was an uplifting reward for the orchestra’s efforts and it made us focus harder, going on to have 60 online releases, and increasing our followers by 18 per cent, with a presence in 45 countries.
Today, one year on, I feel our country is once again at a crossroad as our healthcare professionals work round the clock to treat COVID-19 patients
It is a time for every one of us to look within and to examine where we went wrong. It is easy to succumb to the human desire to pin blame, but this is not a time to be pointing fingers, politically or socially.
Our priority should be to bring down the numbers and ensure our hospitals are not overwhelmed.
As an orchestra, I also find ourselves facing a situation where we once again have to take a step back and rethink the situation. This restorative pause was brought about partially by the health authorities’ decision to place several of our members in mandatory quarantine after three musicians developed COVID-19.
This was done as a precautionary measure, in line with a risk assessment, and in spite of all our efforts to always adhere to the Department of Public Health protocols and ensuring all the MPO’s management and musicians undergo a swab test on a regular basis.
As an orchestra we believe in the healing power of music and in the meantime, we hope that our musicians will make a speedy recovery and return invigorated to start afresh.
I believe if we’re realistic we can confront the situation. We just need to adapt and face this challenge together, as one nation.
Silence is necessary in any symphony and the MPO will be using these few weeks of semi-lockdown to heal and focus on how we can face the future and thrive. The past months have been a challenge as we attempted to create musical harmony between the orchestra while being socially distanced, but we succeeded.
We have a number of productions scheduled to be released as part of the MPO Online Programme, and once the situation is back under control we will focus on awakening the joy of music in children through educational projects, and tapping the film industry to create new funding channels.
Much as we yearn for live audiences, we have to acknowledge and embrace these challenging times, but our goal remains one: to keep the music alive.