The last time violinist Laurie Goldman set foot in Detroit's Orchestra Hall was early March. The Detroit Symphony Orchestra's celebratory centennial 2019-2020 season was well underway. Goldman and her colleagues were preparing to perform back-to-back May concerts to herald the return visit of DSO Music Director Laureate Leonard Slatkin.
Goldman had no idea it would be the final, full rehearsal for the foreseeable future and a live concert season that would go unfinished. The reality has hit her gradually.
"I think that was the case with many people," Goldman said. "I didn't think about what or how long this would last. But soon, the realization set in that it is going to be a long time before we musicians sit together as a full orchestra to play the way we used to. And that is hard. There is no substitute for that connection of being in the presence of fellow musicians and the response you get from a live audience."
Since the pandemic shutdown, the first violinist has kept up with her playing from her Birmingham home on the instrument she says lends to her distinct sound: a 1742 De Vitor violin made in Brescia, Italy. The family den, with the door shut to not disturb the new puppy she and her husband David adopted during quarantine, serves as her practice room. She will run through a Bach piece or record her part of an instrumental that the DSO will piece together for one of their Facebook watch party concerts. She also tries to play with a few musicians over Zoom, but the technology cannot parallel the quality of sound.
"Though I am grateful that we live in a time that allows us to play together in a digital space, it has its limitations," Goldman said. "The timing always feels a bit off."
DSO musicians work to maintain connections with their devoted audiences. The orchestra has staged concert events on Facebook. On its website, the DSO posts a catalog of recordings from past seasons and provides educational resources as part of its #KeeptheMusicPlaying campaign. Musicians correspond with patrons regularly, which Goldman describes as a "silver lining" of creating these bonds with patrons on such an individual level. Still, she said, there is a feeling of loss of not performing in the presence of her fellow musicians in front of a lively and full audience.
Playing solo in quarantine is a challenge for a musician who prefers the company of musicians or being out in the community. In the recent past, Goldman and other DSO members have brought their artistry to concerts at Birmingham's Community House, Baldwin Public Library, or the lobby of Beaumont Royal Oak.
A believer that music is a part of a well-rounded education, Goldman actively participates in the DSO's music education initiatives with K-12 students all around the Detroit metro area.
"Whether or not they will pursue music as a profession, when children have the opportunity to play an instrument, it affects how you listen to music for the rest of your life."
Goldman believes in the importance and timelessness of music. She said there is a pent-up desire to hear live music, and when the time is right, the DSO – or some iteration of it – will play again before a live audience.
"We all need moments of joy and community that come from listening to live music. Music is timeless. We will play in Orchestra Hall again, in some way, someday. After all, the place where we play was constructed a century ago, during the last pandemic."
Photo: Laurie Tennent