Musicians from The Australian National University (ANU) are performing unique one-to-one concerts for the public to help their struggling colleagues during the COVID-19 pandemic.  

With performances in the bush, gardens, galleries and other unusual settings, anyone can book a concert and for a voluntary donation, experience a 10-minute personalised performance by a world-class musician.  

The donations will help support the many performers in deep financial stress from cancelled concerts due to COVID-19 restrictions.  

Flautist Sally Walker playing at old Parliament House. Photo: National Capital Authority

The international project has been launched in Australia by Sally Walker, a lecturer in Classical Woodwind at the ANU School of Music (SoM), and who has been affected personally by the pandemic.  

“Those employed in the performing arts are struggling. Some are selling their homes, some are selling their instruments, there has been a lot of relationship break down and people are feeling terribly desperate,” she said.  

“I had my concerts cancelled by 20 different organisations in the space of four days. Luckily, I had my ANU half-salary contract and I can make ends meet, but it really brought home how tough it is for those who depend solely on performance.” 

The 1:1 concerts run fortnightly and allow listeners to enjoy live music again despite coronavirus restrictions.  

Ms Walker said the 1:1 concert program is devised by the musician on the spot through an intense connection, which occurs when performer and listener sit and look at each other in silence for one minute.  

“During this minute I’m thinking a lot about what this person might like to hear, but it also re-establishes that live person-to-person connection that we’ve lost because we’ve had so much interaction only though screens,” she said. 

“The importance of the eye contact was brought home to me when an older gentleman, for whom I played some of CPE Bach’s solo sonata in A minor, told me afterwards his wife had died four years ago and it was the longest amount of eye contact he’d had with another person since then, and it made him feel human again.  

“Rather than playing to impress – which we sometimes are tempted do in regular concerts – we want the audience to feel the force of the performance –  these are about connecting. We want to really feel the presence of another person, and connect with them on a very deep level through music.”  

Along with ANU Jazz and Contemporary singer Ms Rachael Thoms and Ms Walker on Flute, Head of School, Kim Cunio is offering concerts on the Oud. Thomas Laue will play the Carillon and SoM school manager Alice MacDonald and Outreach Coordinator Open School Anne Clarke are hosts for the concerts. 

The concerts are running in Sydney, Canberra and Newcastle with plans to extend them nationwide.    

To book a concert visit the 1:1 concert program.

Top image: Professor Kim Cunio playing the oud at Canberra Potters. Photo: Peter Hislop

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