Like many of us, Tafelmusik’s Executive Director Carol Kehoe has swapped her office desk for a dining room table and has been working from home for the past week. Today, she shares her thoughts about this new situation.
This is what I’m looking at now that I’m working at home. My dining room table is a makeshift desk, and the original work is a diptych by Canadian artist Jill Price. I love it because it reminds me of the many Southwestern Ontario roads I’ve driven for most of my life.
Working at home has been an adjustment. I miss collaborating alongside my colleagues. I miss walking upstairs from our basement offices into Jeanne Lamon Hall at Trinity-St. Paul’s Centre to watch the musicians rehearse. I miss the laughter in the office kitchen when someone burns the toast, and the daily interaction with patrons, partners, and donors.
Our office team is 18 strong, and when we packed up, we had our work plans in place and online meetings set. On Friday, we gathered on a teleconference and shared what our new workplaces looked like —lots of dining room tables not being used for entertainment, and even a kitchen island turned into a work space. I’m envious of David, our Production Manager, and Andrew, our Marketing Coordinator, who have pets at home, overjoyed that their people are there with them full time.
I’ve been proud of how our musicians and marketing team have been able to bring our musicians online with a new initiative, #TafelmusikTogether. In just two days, this team pivoted to meet a new reality—one that isn’t staged in a performance hall. Virtual presentations are great, but I miss the communal space that a live concert setting evokes. I love listening to live music, watching musicians interacting on stage, and seeing the audience response. My heart sings when I hear the sigh of the person sitting beside me in a concert hall who feels the emotion in the notes being played. Or who cries because of the joy the music is inspiring.
I’m reading Toronto author Ray Robertson’s book How to Die: A Book About Being Alive. He writes, “it might be an illusion to believe it matters whether or not the truth is acknowledged, that good art should be preferable to bad, that ethical fairness be practised—it might even be an illusion that ideals such as truth, beauty, and justice aren’t simply human-constructed chimera—but caring about these sometimes slippery conceptions is what human beings do. When we stop caring about them, we cease being human.”
I’m optimistic that in the months to come, Tafelmusik will contribute constructively to our collective sense of humanity. We won’t stop caring. And I know that we’ll be back on stage, bringing live music to welcoming ears.