Basia Monka
My motto: keeping life interesting and meaningful!

Art & culture ‘corona free’

“Amazing, subtle, and at the same time the precise sound of Sir András Schiff in the beautiful Beethoven’s Piano Concerto no 4! I am not always a fan of a pianist & conductor in one person, but in Schiff’s case it was natural, and full of charm.  I loved it! As well as the Symphony no 8, especially the last part!  It was light, fresh!”  Those were my words on the 29th of February.
With that Beethoven concert, I celebrated the beginning of my 7th year in Israel!

I can call myself a regular at IPO concerts. And I was convinced that very soon I will be back.

But the next concert, only two weeks later, on March 11th, I was listening already at home. The law about public gatherings during the coronavirus pandemic was just implemented. The Israeli Philharmonic Orchestra played the concert without an audience. Conductor Osmo Vänskä bowed to the empty concert hall.

It was beautiful and heartbreaking at the same time. Bach-Skrowaczewski (Toccata and Fugue in D minor) and beautiful Sibelius (Symphony no. 5), broadcasted live on Facebook, on my laptop was not the same. The sound was missing the depth (no proper speakers), but the impact of that concert was huge! I could feel tears in my throat, moved by its power. Despite the audience sent home, musicians stayed. Elegant and professional. I am still hoping they were not as on a Titanic, we, the audience, will be back.

Days later, as more of us started the home isolation, all over the world, the access to culture exploded! Broadcasted: Dudu Tasa, Idan Raichel, The Violin Channel, The Opera in Berlin, The Opera In Tel Aviv, theater plays in Warsaw, Rome; movies, open museums in Paris, New York, Moscow, Milan – all for free, online. What a treat! Now the problem is when to see it all! But as my friend said today: let’s hope we will not stay at home that long, to be able to see everything…

Over the years, both in Poland and Israel, I heard that people don’t need high culture. That this is for elites, minorities. Television was conquered by cheese reality shows, because they were selling well.

And guess what? In the last few days we all became a part of Big Brother. We are locked in our apartments, we know how many tuna fish cans our friends have at home, or if they have managed to buy 40 rolls of toilet paper. And suddenly people, one after other, not just ‘some minorities’, post on social media links to art and culture. People meet online to listen to music together, to watch a movie, a theater play or opera. Suddenly this week, the high culture is not just for elites.

The desire for art and culture gives hope. And culture, with the capital letter C, should be accessible not only now, when it is ‘corona free’. It should, must come back to mainstream media after this pestilence. Let’s not lose it in the good times. As human beings, we need art & culture to survive.

About the Author
Basia Monka is a multilingual journalist with many years of experience in TV and leading respected international publications, specializing in both culture and politics. By education, a psychologist. Besides, she is a coordinator of international high profile events, Jewish educator and consecutive interpreter. In Poland, she worked also in the film industry, as an assistant director and interpreter on the set. Always passionate about culture and travel.
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