SPCO concerts are canceled through December of 2020. A series of concert video streams will be announced soon.

SPCO cellist turns her driveway into a makeshift concert hall

SPCO cellist Sarah Lewis playing Dvořák’s Silent Woods.

Driveways. You plow them in the winter and … perform on them in the summer?

SPCO cellist Sarah Lewis was at first discouraged when concert halls across the world started closing in response to COVID-19. It didn’t take long, however, for her to channel that energy into welcoming solo performance back into her life.

While scrolling through her Facebook newsfeed, Sarah found a video of a colleague playing from her balcony to thank the countless healthcare workers risking their lives to care for others. “I thought that was a generous thing to do, so I figured I would try a similar thing in my driveway. She eagerly foraged her bookshelves for sheet music and began planning. In her search, she was reminded of old music that she rarely gets to play. I started by played some solo Bach and pieces with pre-recorded accompaniment, eventually developing themes for each week.

“Being able to express emotions through music is an important, healthy thing, and I am grateful to those who show up to listen.”

Soon, her neighbors started attending from a distance, and the requests came rolling in. “They inspired to do a family concert for the kids in the neighborhood. At one point, someone shouted out, ‘Do the Beatles! Then, I did a somber themed concert in memory of George Floyd. Being able to express emotions through music is an important, healthy thing, and I am grateful to those who show up to listen.”

Sarah preparing scores for a recent driveway concert.

These weekly 15-minute concerts gradually increased to around 30-45 minutes, along with growing interest in the neighborhood and online. I have a small audience made up of friends and neighbors that went to SPCO concerts regularly. They bring chairs and their own beverages. There is even socially distanced chatting with masks after It feels good to play for people especially during these strange times. It’s a lot of work to curate concerts but I am always glad afterwards!”

As a cellist, we often provide a rhythmic harmonic component in the ensemble, so it’s been fun to play all the melodies for a change!”

Playing solo again so often has proven wonderfully nerve-racking, with both challenges and delights. “Practicing and performing with others is very satisfying because the interaction between players is enriching. As a cellist, we often provide a rhythmic harmonic component in the ensemble, so it’s been fun to play all the melodies for a change!”

Applause really is the icing on the cake! For now, I will keep creating and inviting artistic collaboration from a distance.”

When it is safe, I am really looking forward to getting back to work playing in the orchestra. I miss the wonder of all those other heartbeats in the hall waiting silently for us to begin the concert. It is rewarding in itself to work hard rehearsing a program and perform it on stage with all the excitement a live performance can bring. Then you get to hear an audience reaction to what you have created. Applause really is the icing on the cake! For now, I will keep creating and inviting artistic collaboration from a distance.”