Coronavirus: Sheffield musicians plan garden gigs to 'bring a little joy' during pandemic

Warm-hearted musicians in Sheffield are planning a series of garden gigs to ‘bring a little joy’ to those stuck inside during the coronavirus pandemic.

Wednesday, 18th March 2020, 8:26 am
Updated Wednesday, 18th March 2020, 4:08 pm

With venues across the country closing after the Government called for greater social distancing to restrict the spread of COVID-19, artists in the city are doing their bit to ensure we still have some music in our lives at this hugely worrying time.

Liz Hanks is a professional cellist living on Upper Valley Road in Meersbrook – a particularly musical street even by Sheffield’s standards, where she says several other professional and talented amateur musicians reside.

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Nancy Kerr, an award-winning folk artist living in Pitsmoor, Sheffield, is among the musicians planning to play garden gigs for their neighbours during the coronavirus pandemic (pic: James Fagan Photography)

In response to the COVID-19 crisis, which has led to the widespread cancellation of concerts, plays and other events, they are teaming up to arrange a series of free gigs in their gardens.

Liz hopes the concerts – which will be solo performances by artists in their private gardens, though there may be the odd duet over the fence – will provide much needed cheer to neighbours who will be able to listen from their gardens or windows.

She told how the acoustic gigs, ranging in style from pop to classical, will be for anyone within earshot to enjoy though they are particularly aimed at people who are unable to get out because they are self-isolating or are over 70 or have an underlying health condition, placing them at greater risk from the virus.

“We’re very lucky in our neighbourhood to have lots of musicians,” said Liz, who has played across the globe and also teaches music.

“With the coronavirus outbreak, as a musician I thought what can I do for the community because we’re not going to be playing normal gigs for a while with everywhere closing.

“If we can’t do it in a venue we can still do it in our gardens and try to bring a little joy to our neighbours, especially those who are stuck in their homes.”

Liz hopes performers across the city will follow suit and that young musicians can get involved too.

Acclaimed folk duo Nancy Kerr and her husband James Fagan, who live in Pitsmoor and are in a band with their neighbours three doors down, the Melrose Quartet, are planning something similiar.

“My idea was that we'd simply notify those around us that they might like to listen out from their gardens or open their windows at a certain time, to hear a short set of tunes and songs coming from our garden terrace,” she said.

“There'd be the possibility that our Melrose Quartet neighbours could join in from their terrace too, and we could see if friends across the cemetery could hear us...perhaps other musicians in the area would like to reciprocate It's a very musical place with lots of cultural richness and community.

“There's a lot of talk in my industry, just as in others, about how to survive financially in these times, but this wouldn't be monetised: just a chance for us to play and to make something cheering happen in our community.”