Music to soothe the soul

It was just what I needed: a porch concert. Two professional cellists playing a selection of classical and popular songs to an audience of about 25 people gathered along the sidewalk and spilling out into the residential street.

A husband-and-wife duo organized the event and livestreamed it from their house, just two blocks away from where we live. Lori and I were there because she’s been taking cello lessons from the husband for the past few months.

Earlier that day, I was feeling pretty glum after so many protests against police brutality sparked by George Floyd’s death deteriorated into violent orgies that dominated our screens with burning buildings and cops in riot gear. Overcome by sensory overload, I wrote a blog post lamenting the fraying of our country’s political and cultural fabric.

“Coming apart at the seams”

I burned off some tension with a short run in the afternoon, but the real treat came with the evening concert, courtesy of Dieter Ratzlaf and his wife, Erin Jinks.

Both play in the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra and both have students of all ages that they teach out of their home. Because of the coronavirus, those lessons have moved online, just like everything else.

Needless to say, it was a treat to attend a live performance in the fresh, open air.

Imagine this, if you will:

A two-story house with just enough room for two musicians and their music stands, with colorful donated flowers in vases on both sides of the stairs.

Colorful handmade art, created by the couple’s daughters, welcoming guests to the venue. One sign proclaimed “Black Lives Matter.”

Attendees of all ages, nearly all wearing masks. Most sat in portable chairs on the parking strip, the driveway and the street. A few stood, and one couple sat on their front doorstep directly across the street.

The eldest daughter, all of 14, recorded the concert and managed the event on social media.

Between songs, Dieter and Erin took turns giving shout-outs to their business sponsors – everything from a florist, a winery, a brewery and a distillery to a coffee roaster and a violin sales and rental shop.

A couple of wind gusts sent some sheet music flying, so that prompted two of the daughters to help out keeping the pages in place. The cellists took things in stride, though, and simply restarted the songs.

The hourlong concert ended right around 8 pm, just as the third night of the mayor’s curfew was taking effect. The small crowd applauded, we returned our borrowed chairs to the front lawn, and walked home in 5 minutes, grateful for the respite.

View the concert here at Ratzlaf Cello Studio:

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