When faced with an entirely blank slate, a professional musician has one of two choices: Kick back and relax, or start making some calls.
Victoria violinist Chloe Kim — a decorated musician who is not known to rest on her laurels — chose to do the latter in April, when COVID-19 wiped clean her very busy summer concert schedule. Kim, 23, didn’t fret about her future for much longer than a few weeks, however. Time was of the essence for the baroque musician, who received her graduate degree from New York City’s esteemed Juilliard School in April.
“I was in a very dark place for six weeks, when I was graduating,” Kim said. “My performance activities were put on hold, and at school we were on Zoom calls for five or six hours a day, doing classes. I could see then that musicians weren’t going to survive this if we weren’t getting together to play in some capacity.”
Music for the Pause is the result of Kim’s admirable stick-to-it-iveness. The livestreaming concert series of her creation launches this evening with the first of 11 performances broadcast from Victoria’s Christ Church Cathedral.
Her empty concert calendar now a thing of the past, Music for the Pause will air Fridays at 7:30 p.m. through Sept. 11 with a slate of primarily Victoria-based musicians.
Guests include the Victoria Symphony’s Christi Meyers, Tafelmusik’s Jeanne Lamon and Victoria Baroque’s Soile Stratkauskas, among others. Kim has many collaborators on the project, including Early Music Society of the Islands, Victoria Baroque, Early Music Vancouver: Pacific Baroque Series and Christ Church Cathedral. The performances will be broadcast simultaneously on the Facebook pages of each co-presenter on a by-donation basis, with funds raised being given back to the 12 musicians Kim has hired to participate.
“The musical decisions we are making together,” said Kim, whose is both artistic director and performer during Music for the Pause. “That’s very important to me. Keeping people happy through this is paramount.”
The University of Victoria graduate was in San Francisco in early March for a recital that wound up being her last live performance before the pandemic struck (she has since had tours of Netherlands, Germany and the U.K. cancelled entirely). She had two days until her next contract was set to kick off her busy summer, but Kim decided to fly back home to Victoria instead as musicians in her community were starting to become nervous about their personal safety.
Their professional lives were also at stake, Kim would come to find out. Many of her friends in the U.S. do not have the luxury of returning to work, even in a limited capacity, as Kim will do with Music for the Pause. “A perfect storm is how I refer to it, because it was exactly that.”
She had hoped to launch the project on June 6, but delayed Music for the Pause to ensure her plans were sound. While she refers to her all-encompassing learning curve on the project as “trial by fire,” Kim isn’t entirely out of her element. In January, while living in New York, she organized a Victoria concert featuring pieces by J.S. Bach and Dieterich Buxtehude at Christ Church Cathedral, handling all on-stage and off-stage aspects of the production.
Music for the Pause appears to be quite a bit more challenging. The heavy administrative workload was a new challenge for Kim, whose preparation time is usually spent rehearsing or analyzing charts. “I’ve never had to do much of this before. I’m generally a contract performer. I travel to wherever it is I have to work. I’m not generally the one who has to set up the structure. I appreciate on a whole different level now all that has to be there to make sure operations run smoothly.”
Kim is not yet sure of what lies ahead, or what she will do once Music for the Pause wraps in September. But she will not pause for long.
“[Musicians] cannot just remain on furlough for an indefinite amount of time. The arts is going to be the last thing to come back, and that’s scary. A lot of my colleagues have children or are new parents or are double-musician households, and that’s something that is at the forefront of my mind, too. Not only keeping people busy and happy, but also making sure that they are fed at the end of the day. That is really important to me.”
For more information on Music for the Pause, visit christchurchcathedral.bc.ca.