How the Arts Have Sustained Me During the Pandemic 

During the first couple of weeks of being confined to my apartment, I was at loose ends, trying to get adjusted to the loss of my exercise classes, piano playing commitments, concerts, lunches and activities with friends. By week three however, it was clear that things were not going to return to normal soon, if ever, and I had no choice but to adapt to the new reality. I decided the way forward was to focus on my various artistic pursuits that had always been a source of challenge and satisfaction throughout my life. 

I first turned my attention to completing several unfinished drawings. I sent pictures of the finished drawings to friends and acquaintances and immediately got an order for one. With nothing but bad news everywhere,  this indeed was something to celebrate. 

Next I dug through some old music notes and found a couple of good tunes I had composed for jazz theory classes years ago, and never used. I put them together in a new piece and forwarded it to Jannie Burdeti, a fine pianist with whom I had been working. She loved it and made a recording. Entitled Memories of Fort Mason, it already is up on my website: 

When I heard Scott Meek and his wife Clare were streaming  piano four hand concerts live from their home Sunday nights to entertain shut-in concert goers, I contacted them and asked if I could help. They needed more piano four hand music and I agreed to provide it. I have now completed three arrangements and have promised to produce two more. One has already been performed. Rarely in my life have I been able to prepare music with the certainty that it would get a live performance, and inadvertently, this virus has made it possible. 

Finally, I took advantage of the opportunity we had to go out and enjoy the Spring awakening all around us. Nature clearly was oblivious of the virus, and the flowers were particularly spectacular this year. I took many pictures and shared them with family and friends back east where the promise of Spring was still a remote dream. 

In reviewing the last two months, a couple of sayings come to mind: "When one door closes, another opens." And "if life gives you a lemon, make lemonade." During this pandemic, I have used my artistic skills to challenge and entertain myself, and in so doing,  created works that might not have been created otherwise, and have positively affected others. I feel like in my own way, I've brought a little sunshine into a troubled world. And yes I still have moments of loneliness and nostalgia for what is lost, but I go forward and take comfort in the contribution I can make. I appreciate not everyone is an artist, but we all have something special we can do now, and we may be surprised by how good we feel when we do it. 

Frank Levin, Composer and Visual Artist, May 2020. 

Article written at the request of the West Vancouver Community Arts Council.

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