Members of Leipzig’s world-renowned Gewandhausorchester performed a series of free concerts outside of senior citizen living facilities, hospitals and other public health institutions. Over two days, with the active assistance and professional logistics support of DHL, orchestra musicians brought the enjoyment of classical music to people otherwise limited in their movements due to illness and COVID-19 lockdown restrictions.
Concerts that can be performed in public are practically non-existent during the coronavirus crisis. That's why most productions that were planned are only available as audience-free online streaming presentations. The Gewandhausorchester’s unique music initiative delivered by DHL is therefore something very rare and special: classical music, played live – making it far more emotional than can otherwise be currently experienced via the Internet. At the same time, the in-person musical interlude also helped provide a welcome sense of normality to vulnerable shut-ins living under today's extraordinarily disquieting special circumstances.
Initial discussions between Christian Fanghänel, head of Development at the oldest continuously performing civic orchestra in the world and DHL Leipzig Hub’s Stefan Macourek about a possible “moveable musical feast” began in March, even before the German government in Berlin announced strict contact and movement restrictions.
Saying “Thank you”
The plan from the beginning was to deliver the thrilling pleasure of live classical music entertainment to elderly and handicapped citizens of Leipzig, where they were required to remain in isolation, separated from family and friends by the effects of the coronavirus epidemic. Additionally, the semi-private courtyard concerts were to recognize and express special thanks to the many healthcare and medical professionals, who were so heroically and selflessly providing for their aged and ill patients, as well as all those under their protective care.
“The many years of close cooperation between DHL and the Gewandhausorchester made this joint effort not only possible, but an exciting and fulfilling experience for us all, as well,” praised GHO’s Fanghänel. “Our musicians were grateful to have this amazing opportunity to offer a few moments of solace to some members of our community suffering under the current conditions and are appreciative of the chance to express our support for the everyday heroes, who care for our most fragile and frail citizens. ”
Offering happiness in strange times
The performances began on Saturday, April 25, 2020 in the interior courtyards of St. Elizabeth Hospital and the Children’s Hospice Bärenherz, followed a few days later by concerts held at a hospice and a senior citizens’ home: the Seniorenheim Leipzig-Volkmarsdorf and Hospice Advena. In many cases, the residents and patients stood at their windows or just outside building’s entranceways to feel the music as directly as possible, while maintaining required social distancing.
Among the orchestra members volunteering to play at the live open air charitable events were First Violinists Julius Bekesch and Kana Ohashi. “We hope we have brought people a bit of joy with our brief concerts,” said Bekesch, who is also a Gewandhausorchester Deputy Concertmaster. Australian-Japanese violinist Kana Ohashi added, “For us, it was very special, because we want to play music for people and this was a great opportunity. We wanted to give something that hopefully makes people happy in these strange times.”
“It was her birthday”
Six highly dedicated DHL personnel volunteered to transport the orchestra members, their musical instruments and stage equipment from venue to venue in two vehicles and ensured that all coronavirus hygiene rules were adhered to, including providing appropriate masks for all participants. "Together with our long-time partner Gewandhausorchester, we wanted to bring joy to people who cannot simply walk out the door or receive visits from their loved ones,” explained DHL Communicator Stefan Macourek.
“We wanted to deliver music to them and all those caregivers who selflessly provide for all their needs. I was particularly moved by an elderly lady in the hospital who cried during the concert. It turned out to be her birthday and we could give her a concert that day. It was gratifying to be able to bring such lovely music to people who don’t have a chance to come to a concert hall to hear it."
Music has charms to soothe
Two 20-minute mini-concerts were performed each day, featuring works by Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy. In one case, a home resident recognized her favorite Gewandhausorchester violinist and thanked Julius Bekesch personally, telling him that she had long been a fan of his virtuosity.
Maria Balke, Talent Management, DHL Hub Leipzig, volunteered to help out as a driver. "It was an incredibly beautiful experience to put a smile on people's faces with music,” she recalls. “I still have goose bumps when I think about it. Being a part of this great action makes me proud and gives me strength in the current situation.”
DHL is the world-famous symphony orchestra’s Official Logistics Partner. The collaboration between the Gewandhausorchester and DHL began in 2005 but goes well beyond only the logistics of touring. The two companies share many common values and work together closely on social projects that impact local communities.