What if after every concert, audience members wrote letters of gratitude to the performers? I suppose that applause can be an acceptable stand-in for something more personal and explicit. However, I have found that, during the pandemic while I am performing in the intimacy of backyards and gardens, I have loved receiving written appreciations. Is it a formality of good hospitality? Sure, of course. Beyond that, these notes also affirm for me that what I have been doing this summer really matters, and that it goes beyond simply providing entertainment for a brief while.
Here are some of my favorites, accumulated over the past three months.
"Thank you again for that marvelous concert this evening. It has been a long time since I felt so relieved to hear music. Having you and your cello in our back yard, under the trees and the sky, with our neighbors quietly listening, and my husband so transported, I felt the terrible ache of the world recede. Not vanish, but recede. You are a wonderful musician. What you are giving to people by coming to their homes to play outside is deeply generous."
"Your playing was magnificent. As I said at the time the visual experience of watching you playing, particularly in the Bach, added an emotional dimension that cannot be gained from a recording. t was amazing! Bob was greatly touched by your dedications. Again, all of us who were there had a unique experience. It could not have come at a better time."
"I cannot thank you enough for the extraordinary gift you gave on June 16th at my home in Lincoln. Listening to your beautiful cello concert in the backyard on a beautiful June evening was indeed a special gift unlike I have ever received. We were all deeply moved including neighbors and the rose breasted grosbeak! Your musical talents not only touched our spirits, but the spirit of a little bird. I do believe she gave you a highly well deserved complement.
"Thanks so much for this extraordinarily special day. My father-in-law said it was the best birthday present he ever could have asked for. This is such important work you are doing, Heath. I sat on the grass today and the was transported. We all cried and we all left feeling a deeper sense of our selves and connection to each other."
"Heath, I think I would be representing everybody’s emotions and response by telling you that there was something magical, transformative and healing about your gift of music to that small group that you performed for. I was moved and in awe of the power of music to transform so much at a time when our fears and worries cloud the gifts life offers us each day.
"My neighbors are still talking about you. It's amazing how something simple changed the whole day. Two of my neighbors had never met- they have lived two houses apart for 25 years!"
"Thank you, Heath. It was a tremendous break in our isolation from the arts, and a break from our relentless focus on disease and politics."
"We can't thank you enough for coming to my back yard and performing the wonderful concert that you did for us on Saturday! We ALL enjoyed it so very much. I even had a special phone call Saturday evening from my 17 year old grandson, after he got home, to let me know how much he enjoyed it. It's a bit unusual for him to make this kind of phone call, so I have a strong feeling that he REALLY REALLY enjoyed it!! And we're all still talking about it . . ."
"Just to tell you again how much we all enjoyed the concert. It was really lovely. I must tell you that, to my great joy, [my husband with early-onset Alzheimer's] enjoyed it immensely. He was smiling the whole time and later told me what a pleasure it had been for him. So the whole event was a great treat for all of us (even for [our dog] who I am glad to say behaved very well. I had feared he might start howling, but clearly he appreciated the music and the company)."
Sharing student project documentation and, more recently, my own.