How COVID doubled our first Heirloom Music Festival
What happens when the gods of necessity intervene with the winds of fate and circumstance?
The answer: it depends on whether the gods of necessity have been appeased or not by enough sacrifice from the musicians who need them to show up, and whether the winds of fate are blowing clear skies or rain clouds that day!
In April 2022, a grant which we didn’t think we’d be awarded came through – and what followed was seven weeks of concert planning, promotion, and production, musician wrangling, a cross-country trip just a couple of weeks before the concerts, and a very poorly timed double-bout of COVID-19.
The concerts were set for June 3rd, 4th, and 5th. From May 16th through the 22nd, Mikayla and I were in San Francisco, some 3,000 miles away. I had rehearsals and concerts with the San Francisco Bach Orchestra, and Mikayla was leading a business retreat with her management team.
Then just 10 days before our trip, Mikayla came down with COVID. The clock was only ticking until the onset of my symptoms, and the day after we arrived in California, the time bomb went off: I contracted the virus and had to cancel all of my rehearsals out there.
The dominoes seemed to be falling fast and furious. First us – and then our fantastic first violinist, Allyson, reported that her young son had COVID, too. Which meant that her time table was even worse than ours. Mikayla recovered rapidly before we’d even left California, and I was on the mend and could probably recover in time for our rehearsals. But Allyson? Her best-case scenario would mean she’d be exposed to her son only ten days before our first show.
Somehow, amidst the flurry of activity, a fine program of music with outstanding musicians emerged. Since we’d originally planned three concert programs for the ‘Heirloom Festival’ – an homage to the rustic and folksy charm of western Massachusetts and lesser-known gems from great composers chosen for the occasion – we asked Allyson to play her portion of the concerts in August.
Heirloom parts I and II emerged from the chaos! There ended up being two sets of two concerts each, in early June and late August.
Something even better than we’d hoped for emerged from what seemed to be The End – and we were even covered by local media outlets, like The Greenfield Recorder and 101.5 FM-WHMP.