Caroline Harrison and Carolyn Scott, violists with the BBC Symphony Orchestra, haven’t been able to perform since lockdown restrictions were imposed before Christmas.
Instead they have been giving recitals to residents in retirement communities, playing from their homes over Zoom.
Their audience, who have been tuning in on their ipads and laptops, have been enjoying a varied repertoire of classical, folk and even Ragtime music including pieces by Bach, Schubert, Elgar and Scott Joplin.
“There is nothing like sharing live music,” enthuses Caroline who is co principal viola of the BBC Symphony Orchestra.
“Both Carolyn and I have missed performing with our fellow musicians but it has been lovely giving private recitals to people who cannot get out.”
The concerts have brought isolating folk together from all over the country for half an hour each Tuesday and Friday for the past few weeks.
“We so enjoy playing for everyone,” added Caroline, who with Carolyn (pictured left) have been performing on a voluntary basis to residents at Churchill Retirement’s developments and also to homeowners at Inspired Villages’ seven schemes.
“Because there is two of us it means we can share the sessions,” Caroline added.
“We even hope that when rehearsals and performances with the orchestra return we will still be able to continue bringing live music into the homes of older people.”
After the 20-minute performances the audience members are invited to come off mute and talk to the performers and ask questions.
Some are retired musicians and singers themselves and have engaged the women in fascinating conversation.
Perhaps the most memorable and moving was one lady, Magdalen Houlihan, aged 82, from Frinton, who said the music made it easier for her to bear and accept the feeling of depression and isolation in lockdown.
“She brought a tear to my eye,” said Caroline. “But it makes what we are doing all the more worthwhile.”