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As the world shifts into a post-isolation era, the Dunedin Music Society is shifting its focus towards being CURIOUS, EAGER and RESPECTFUL. These are the characteristics that will define the culture of the DMS in 2022 and beyond.
What does that even mean?
Let’s explore it…
In early 2020, when it became clear that we all had to isolate ourselves from each other, the DMS took one week off to determine what to do and how we were going to respond to “flattening the curve” for two weeks… which soon turned into two months. And ended up being on the verge of two years.
At that time, when both the Board of Directors and the Executive Committee met, we adopted a focused approach:
This focus allowed us to convert many of our planned in-person events to online activities, such as the three Virtual Band Festivals. The last one included 17 bands from all over the USA, and 13,000 viewers from all over the world!
Then, in late 2020 when our new fundraising consultant helped us launch our COVID Catch-Up Challenge (remember that ketchup bottle image? Yeah – we miss it, too!), we altered our approach slightly to:
That perspective influenced the operating boundaries when we decided what events to host, whether online or outdoors and, eventually in early 2021, indoors, too. The Pinellas Community Players continued live-streaming their concerts, and the Dunedin Concert Band rehearsed in Dunedin’s old Fire House alongside lawn mowers and tons of mulch… sometimes with the bay doors open (brrr…).
We still managed to host a total of 105 events in 2020, and 159 online and in-person public performance and educational events in 2021.
So what’s next?
Depending on which of the latest scientific findings you choose to follow – and, quite frankly, which media outlets, too – it appears as though COVID-19 is progressing through the normal stages of a virus life cycle and becoming a prevalent but less potent part of everyday life, much like influenza and other coronaviruses.
Yes, even when we have a common cold, we need to stay away from others, take precautions at home, and rest. However, as we learn to better incorporate potentially dangerous health concerns into our daily and possibly annual routines, it is clear that we no longer need to isolate quite as much as we have during these past two years.
Because of that, the DMS is returning to a mostly in-person schedule with a few online activities here and there.
The DMS has recovered from this isolation period, rebuilt itself, and is successfully reconnecting local communities with live music… and each other.
With that approach nearing its completion, what perspective do we take on now?
Curiosity is an attractive trait that has caused all manner of invention and discovery. Musicians who perform without knowing any of the social, historical, or musical context of the music they are performing are delivering a sub-standard service. They are selling the audience, the ensemble, and themselves short of a complete musical and emotional experience.
It’s good to be curious about who you’re performing alongside, too! A performer who played in one of our ensembles for several years has his name on a plaque currently beyond the boundaries of our solar system (yes, on one of the Voyager spacecrafts). Another has been performing and recording for the movie composer John Williams for three decades. Both of these incredible people have sat alongside other incredible people who are teaching high school biology, filling out tax forms for others, homeschool moms and dads, and corporate landscapers. Get to know the people around you – you’ll be amazed at the connections you make.
Wanting to learn, to grow, to know more, to do more, to contribute, to share, invite, encourage…
Helping society at large – and our local communities in particular – be better places to live; be better neighbors and workers; be better performers and listeners: Anyone willing to help others demonstrates a keenness that is admired, comforting, and beneficial to all.
But it starts with the individual who is willing to help get stuff done, help behind the scenes, help others with transportation, with cooking, with learning their part, supporting others conquer a more difficult part beyond their comfort zone, being willing to attend a concert with unfamiliar music… and sharing the experience with others.
Our commercial consumerism has idolized the singer-songwriter, and “music” these days is more often than not associated with the lyrics that are added on top of the music. Music is its own language, the language of emotions. We don’t need lyrics while watching a movie and the music is driving and intense, or soft and romantic. The music creates the mood more than the action does. Music deserves much more respect than modern society gives it… music is more than songs.
In addition, it is good to respect each other as well – those who may have advanced musical experiences as well as those who are brand new at creating and sharing music. Those who listen to music deserve as much respect as those who perform it. Many musicians focus on what they have to offer, and don’t seem to mention that they are sharing something with an audience – what’s it like from their perspective? What are they experiencing?
So that’s the DMS approach beginning in 2022:
Curious, Eager, Respectful.
How do you choose to engage in these three concepts?
Recovering, Rebuilding and Reconnecting services that are essential for the heart, physically, mentally and emotionally, requires an amazing balance of zealous and sometimes very loud and admonishing sentiments.
Many of our members, performers and volunteers are seeking clarification regarding Dunedin Music Society activities right now, and we would like to share our current position with you and our fans in the public space.
According to the New York Times data that Google presents on its website, the peak of COVID-19’s Delta variant in Florida occurred on August 16 with 29,711 active cases, and as of the time of writing, the number of active cases is 19,908 which shows a drop of 33% in the past two weeks. If data from other countries’ experiences with Delta can be relied upon, its rapid decline of spread has begun… but we still remain cautious, caring and optimistic, in case it hasn’t.
In fact, the CDC reports that so far in 2021, there have been slightly fewer deaths in Florida from COVID-19 (21,490 = 0.009% of FL’s population) than from pneumonia (22,410 = 0.011%). Neither are in the CDC’s top 10 causes of death in Florida so far  – heart-related deaths remain the highest concern at 0.021% of our population. These numbers include non-residents in Florida at the time of passing.
As a response, the DMS and all its groups, including the Dunedin Concert Band, have requested that everyone take the action they believe is essential for their safety and the safety of their loved ones, which may include masks, vaccines, or even staying away from in-person activity.
We have been made aware of neighbors medically advised not to take the COVID-19 or other vaccines (long before COVID became a thing) due to existing medical conditions that are likely to put them at higher risk of dangerous reactions. DMS General Director Stephen P Brown stated “We have asked everyone to make their own decisions re: masks, vaccines and participation to demonstrate compassion for others and/or for self-preservation, and as we are a fully inclusive organization, we do not discriminate against or exclude those that do or those that don’t.”
“We need to show as much compassion for those with higher health risks beyond COVID-19 as we do for those for which COVID-19 is the highest health risk. Blanket assumptions about each individual without context are not helpful, and do not demonstrate the compassion we all possess.” Brown said.
The DMS Executive Committee recently decided that:
- Our regular programs (Dunedin Concert Band, Florida Symphonic Winds, Pinellas Festival of Community Bands, and Rhythm Kings Jazz Orchestra) will continue with their current schedules. The Pinellas Community Players will also resume rehearsals and performances as soon as a new Conductor has been appointed.
- Our brand new programs originally scheduled to launch this month (Novice Adult Band, Novice Adult Strings, Homeschool Band, Homeschool Strings, and Music Teacher Trainings) will not launch and are postponed for the foreseeable future. Our Music Theory Certification Workshops and Repertoire Workshops due to launch later this year will likely proceed.
Whether you mask and vaccinate to show compassion for others and/or for self-preservation, or do not mask and vaccinate due to existing health risks and/or other reasons, we invite you to consider participating in live music activities and taking the measures you believe are necessary for you and your loved ones in your household.
Zubin Mehta, former Music Director of the New York Philharmonic, declared “Music is the message of peace, and music only brings peace.”
Cellist Pablo Casals stated “Music – that wonderful language – should be a source of communication among men.”
Moliere, a playwright of the 17th century, advised “All the disorders, all the wars which we see in the world, only occur because of the neglect to learn music.”
We remain in service to connecting our communities with live music – essential for the heart.