At the beginning of lockdown, like many musicians, I experienced a peculiar mix of terror and exhilaration. Existential crises were abundant, but I was finally freed from the endless stream of deadlines to focus on my own artistic expression and the kind of art I wanted to be making. This sensation lasted for around a month, and then I began to realise something about myself. For many musicians the integral relationship is between themselves and their instrument, and sustenance comes in the form of hours spent working on that connection. However for me, the crucial connection is with other people. Audiences, fellow musicians, students…there is an exchange of energy that takes place when music is performed, and this is what has been missing from the lives of so many of us over the last 8 months. Music and Renewal was one of the first times I have been able to make that connection again in a professional capacity.

My relationship with classical music has become somewhat strained since the beginning of the pandemic, so I have turned to other forms of music for comfort. Traditional music from different parts of the globe, free improvisation, folk music I haven’t played since childhood; all of this became a different way for me to connect with music when what I knew was no longer possible.

Music and Renewal was a celebration of these connections and styles. The chance to perform with other musicians outside my bubble, and to bring my newly found improvisation voice to the concert platform was utterly liberating. Community is something that is so lacking in our lives in the 21st century, and the chance to work with the visual artists on pieces which held so much of their selves was a privilege and a pleasure. In Latin America they have a particular phrase for this exchange of energy that took place that evening; El Duende (as ever, the English language comes up short when describing the nuances of human emotion).

A friend described it a “that moment when you are performing on stage and you look over to see a small child entranced by the music, your eyes catch and something electric passes between you. That is El Duende”.

(Emma Purslow, Alkyona Quartet Violinist)