“I realized that my job is to awaken possibility in others.”

Conductor Benjamin Zander offers weekly concerts in his Cambridge driveway

Sam Seidel - Cambridge Chronicle
Articles — September 23, 2020

For classical musicians in Boston, it’s been a difficult year. When Symphony Hall shut down March 12 due to COVID-19, not only were musicians out of work, they couldn’t do what they love best: bringing people together in celebration of music. The silence was deafening.

Luckily for them, into this silence stepped Boston Philharmonic conductor Benjamin Zander. Unwilling to accept there would be no live music in the region until next summer, he called his associate principal cellist Velléda Miragias to see if she’d be willing to play some music. For free. In his driveway. She agreed, and on a Sunday in May she played solo Bach Suites in his driveway for about one hour. From that first impromptu moment was born the series “Safe and Sound,” weekly concerts outside his Brattle Street home.

“I’m fortunate to have a very large driveway,” Zander quipped.

Since then, players from the Boston Philharmonic have put on 14 concerts in total, drawing people from all over the neighborhood, with audiences as large as 90 people. To many, that first concert was the most impactful.

“People were stopping with their bicycles, people were stopping with their cars,” Miragias said.

It’s not just the neighbors who have felt the impact of these live performances. The restrictions on large group gatherings have been hard on musicians emotionally and mentally.

“The players are immensely grateful. They are so glad to be making real live music,” said Zander.

For Miragias, it’s been a helpful outlet in a time of uncertainty. “In the midst of distress, it has brought people together in a different way,” she said.

The Safe and Sound concert series is coming to an end this Friday. There have been discussions about continuing it somehow through the winter, but nothing definite has been decided.

As for Zander, the whole endeavor started from a simple desire; “I want to share beauty. Music is the ultimate beauty.”

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