Digital Concerts or Performances

I have now taken part in a number of live-streamed performances. I like not to think of them as concerts. There is so much about the concert environment that is lost – the chats with friends before and after, the feel of the music taking shape in the room and the sound waves moving directly from the performers to the audience’s ears, the sharing of space together. When I call these live-stream performances it infuses my experience with this sense of absence, loss, worry and perhaps anger at the removal of something which I had previously taken for granted.

By thinking of these as live-streamed performances, as they are planned the feeling that I am creating an event that will be experienced at home by the listener perhaps on their own with a number of potential distractions. As a performer I need to become more comfortable with communicating through the medium of the camera / screen and to connect deeply with the music to present the listener or viewer with an experience that they can connect deeply to.

In viewing these performances I’m struck by the difference from perhaps what I might have expected last March. I’ve often watched concerts online, in which a static camera is set up to archive the performance and to document the experience for the future. Now, there is an opportunity to have cameras closer to a performer than would be possible with a live audience (still no more than 2m, of course). I find myself more and more enjoying the spoken introductions and appreciating the conversation around the music much more. In “normal” times, at a concert, I’m always wishing for this to just hurry past me and let me listen to the music. Now I find myself relishing this opportunity to hear another person’s opinions, their thoughts on music and let me see even if only a small glimpse into their own life. In these times when we are starved of human contact with many people living on their own, and having no one to share conversation with, these moments of discussion, while one-sided, allow me to feel connected and acknowledge to myself that we are all living on the same world, with some of the same problems, but that everything will affect us all differently.

My next live-streaming event is one I’m looking forward to very much. I was asked to perform Gráinne Mulvey’s A Carlow Song-Cycle with guitarist Anselm McDonnell as part of the Contemporary Music Centre of Ireland and the Irish Embassy, Hungary co-production of the St Brigid’s Day Celebration – celebrating Irish women. With the new restrictions that were brought in, myself and Anselm were able to record excerpts of this collaborating online and each recording from our own home. It was really a fascinating process, and I’m so grateful to the CMC for the ambition to commit to this project, and also for their resourcefulness in ensuring a successful artistic result. There is also discussion on the work and other pieces performed by Katalin Koltai led by Evonne Ferguson. The event is hosted by the Ambassador to Hungary who opens and closes the event – the second half of which includes a very interesting discussion led by Linda O’Shea-Farren with myself and other Irish and Hungarian musicians.

The event will take place on the 1st February at 7pm (GMT). More information is available from the Contemporary Music Centre’s website.

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