Two thousand and twenty ended in silence. At the beginning of December, new ministerial recommendations had further delayed the redeconfinement of bodies and souls, and concert halls, like the mine of passers-by, remained gloomy. In the grayness of Strasbourg, music-loving delivery cyclists passed at full speed; powerful, haunting, frenzied music followed in their tracks, leaving behind a trail of rhythmic impulses distorted by speed.
Cloistered in their homes, other hydro-alcoholic music lovers let themselves drift from their sofa to the algorithmic currents of the Web, in search of these islands of music that remind us that dry land exists, somewhere. The illuminations of the Christmas market, under the glittering light of the divine conifer, monopolized the horizon of the confined bleaks, while, well hidden around the Place Gutenberg, loudspeakers poured out their overly sweet psalms …
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For months since the curtain had fallen on the stage, the musicians were impatient behind the scenes. For months, they had redoubled their inventiveness to affirm, again and again, the beauty and the necessity of their art. Many of them, even among the most prestigious, had seen fit to convert to the tools offered by technology: some to maintain a link with their audience, others just to be able to give their courses; all, finally, to continue to exist despite poor connections, latency, unexplained bugs, frustration. Each of their bottles thrown into the ocean of the all-virtual carried within it the hope of a return to reality and of some kind of recognition: that of a friend, a spectator, a student, a colleague, a director, or a prime minister.
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In the grayness of December, many felt vaguely despised when the new ministerial recommendations were announced. Why then, they said to themselves, authorize the crowding of customers in these ready-to-wear stores rather than in these ready-to-play theaters which had nevertheless given proof of their foolproof adaptability? How could anyone come and explain to them very calmly that there was more risk in sitting alone on a soft seat in the twentieth row than having to stand in a tram?
The absurdity of the situation was obvious and the eternal economic and hygienic refrain stirred their discontent. Out of spite, some injected themselves with the vaccine of humor: to dance to the “Valse des cancellations”, it was imagined that the Opéra du Rhin would one day give an “Iphigénie en Covid”, that the Strasbourg Philharmonic Orchestra s ‘would attack an arrangement of Fleeting visions by Prokofiev, and that pianists very much astride the enormous sagittarius would play a study for piano and disinfectant gel …
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It was getting boring, by dint of being relegated to the folding seats of the henhouse … So, to keep hope in a tomorrows which sing and which play, they remembered their very first musical emotions and the very first time they took to the stage with pride. They quietly repeated to each other, like a stubborn bass, these words from South Korean pianist HJ Lim: “I greet the public. The applause fades. The piano waits. I sit. And then there is the music. And everything happens. The music is them, it’s me, it’s you, it’s us who seek silence (…). What was hurt, the sadness in the sore lungs, everything is erased. I enter the world from the inside, and I am free. Free. “
They even missed the pleasure of hearing the audience cough …
So when that blessed day came when the sacrosanct principle of precaution finally decided to raise the shroud that it had thrown over concert halls, the musicians at first believed in a miracle. They were no longer used to taking such risks. So they closed their apps, shut off their screens, put away their cameras, and firmly grasped their instruments, faithful companions in misfortune. Then they left their home and looked up into the daylight.
The present sky was radiant.