A little over a week ago, I played a concert with my quartet. It was an open-air concert, and as much as we musicians are always afraid of these (there’s no walls that the sound can bounce off, and therefore it’s harder than usual to try and make our instruments sound beautiful), it was just perfect. The surroundings were beautiful – it was a nature reserve on the Belgian coast, known for the huge variety of birds which live there. The morning sun was shining right on our instruments (the wood is very susceptible to such heat and the instruments immediately go out of tune!), our music was constantly being blown off our music stands by the wind (the audience was very cooperative, running after it, putting it back on the stands and sacrificing hair clips to help stabilise it)… and despite all these minor disasters we had a feeling of being in perfect community with the listeners – surely inspired by the dreamy view around us all.
There was one thing I very much wanted to talk to the audience about. Yes – climate. If I had not been playing that concert, I would have been striking for climate in Brussels, like millions of people around the world on the 20th of September. I told this to the audience, along with some – perhaps cliché but heartfelt – observations about how beautiful, inspiring and fragile nature is – waving my arms around me – and how badly we need to act to keep it and ourselves alive. To be honest, as much as I wanted to make this speech, I dreaded the reactions of the audience. But – surprise oh surprise – there were so many people who were genuinely touched and came to us after the concert to say so!
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I was so relieved to see over the next few days that there were so many people taking part in the protests. I was so happy to hear a fellow musician talk about how she tries to avoid flying when she can and doesn’t eat meat*. (And also sees the environmental impact of having a pet!!). I was beside myself with joy when getting out of the station and deciding to take the taxi instead of the usual tram I had the driver initiate a conversation about climate change, the impact it has on poorer countries, the future of our children, and the necessity to diminish car traffic (!). I feel so relieved when it’s not just some internet influencers or Bea Johnson initiating conversations about zero waste and less plastic, but my friend’s boyfriend. Over the last ten days I felt a lot of anxiety go away! So, maybe we’re not doomed yet right?
* I feel like we as musicians have a lot of progress to make in diminishing our carbon footprints. The plane travels, and the tons of plastic we use up ordering our take out salads with forks, soups with spoons, coffees to go. Often I feel like a beast of burden, schlepping around my reusable water bottle, reusable coffee cup, fork and spoon, spare napkins and my own tea bags… and still it happens to me to forget the bloody bottle leaving home and end up buying water in a plastic bottle. I’m very happy that most places I travel to are within easy reach by train – but next year we’ll be doing a couple of trips from Brussels to Oslo with my quartet and I’m already grinding my teeth seeing as it will be next to impossible to do it 100% by train!