AT HOME WITH MARCUS BARCHAM STEVENS

goldI should have been playing in an SCO concert in Eden Court Theatre in Inverness on 22 March at 4 pm, and so my wife Christina Lawrie and I decided to post our first online #ConcertFromOurLivingRoom at that exact time.

We still have lots of family up there and know lots of concertgoers and music-lovers in and around Inverness, Newtonmore and Nairn who would have been looking forward to seeing us, so it seemed like a good way to mark the cancelled performance. It was also a lovely way for our little girl to wish Happy Mother’s Day to her two grandmothers.

Having started this project, it’s now our plan to keep the concerts going all the way through the lockdown period. One of our main aims has been to share the solace and joy of music in this strange time, and to maintain a sense of community and connectedness. The lockdown was necessary and we were relieved when it was announced, but it’s a heartbreaking situation for so many reasons. One of the things which saddened us was the loss of community. Knowing the music scene in Scotland and around the UK, we are aware that for many music-lovers, concert-going is at the heart of their social life. Going to concerts can be a lifeline, bringing friendship and a sense of purpose and focus, at the same time as enabling people to experience the thrill of live performances of great music. With all that in mind, we decided to set up a regular concert series from home.

Getting to grips with the technology has been a big challenge. We had to learn how to operate a video camera, work out how to set up mics and good lighting, set up a YouTube channel, learn the hard way about the need for video compression software (our laptop broke down!) and join Twitter (yes, we are very late to the Twitter party!).

We have received so many messages since starting our living room concert series, and we have replied to every single one received to date. People have been telling us how much they miss their own music-making, in chamber groups and local orchestras, and we have been happy to make suggestions about isolation repertoire, and even remote duo work!

Christina and I would like to thank you all of you for your wonderful support and encouragement, and all the heart-warming messages. In these uncertain times, great art and music will nourish all of our souls.