The global pandemic has affected all of us. Whether you are a musician, concert-goer, supporter, volunteer, or staff member, the inability to be together right now to perform and enjoy great live music is challenging. Our colleagues all over the country are feeling similarly. As an industry, we continue to forge connections between our orchestras and community, and we have been inspired by others who have shared images and insights into their musicians and organizations while sheltering at home.
We asked our photographer Rick Buchanan to capture portraits of ProMusica At Home. Below are the stories and emotions of several passionate individuals—musicians, staff, and board members—who contribute significantly to bring music into our everyday lives.
Until we can safely be together again, let’s continue to find the connections that keep us together and strong.
Principal bassist John Pellegrino is one of the most well-traveled orchestra musicians we know. For the past 30 years, he has performed in major ensembles in Columbus and holds an active teaching studio as well. As a substitute with many of the country’s top orchestras, his typical performing schedule takes him from to Wyoming to Wisconsin to Nashville and Milwaukee – with multiple return trips back to home base here in Columbus. In between his cross-country travels, you will find him programming for his summer chamber music festival in Rhode Island, where he serves as Artistic Director. When he finds the precious weeks during the performing “off” season, he hops back in his Toyota Venza, usually with bass in tow, to visit his 90-year old father in Ft. Myers, Florida.
With the COVID-19 pandemic, life has been a little less-traveled for John. “It has been a shock to my system to be without what had been a very rigorous routine!” said John. “It’s as if all the rehearsals, studying, practicing, and playing have taken a leave of absence from my life,” he added. At this moment, John remains hopeful for the future, and looks forward to re-uniting with ProMusica colleagues onstage with broad smiles and eventually warm hugs (when those are allowed again).
[Pictured: John on the porch of his home in Grandview Heights.]
“It is my hope that the spiritual awakening that is occurring in our country will actually bring more importance to the role of live music making in America. I see a TOTAL upside to live art in the U.S. as we, as an awakened nation, proceed forward.”
– John Pellegrino, principal bass
Anyone in this community will agree that Mary Yerina and Bob Redfield are the kindest, most generous, supportive, and energetic couple in Columbus. Pre-coronavirus, on any given weekend they could be seen enjoying performances at ProMusica, JAG, CATCO, and BalletMet (amongst others!), followed by cheering on their team at a Buckeyes football game or women’s basketball game. To top it all off, their volunteerism takes them to serve at the Dublin Food Pantry, Columbus Humane, and Crichton Club. So, for ProMusica to have both Mary and Bob currently serving as board members at the same time? Call us blessed and grateful!
As huge arts supporters, we know how deeply they must miss live performances. “It has been an adjustment having so many concerts, performances and events canceled,” they said. “We are finding music and arts online to enjoy – however, we anxiously await the day when we can safely return to the Southern Theatre with ProMusica!” Until then, Mary and Bob remain as active as ever, experimenting with new recipes from their Culinary Capers cookbooks, reading, doing yoga, cycling, gardening, and completing jigsaw puzzles! (At the time of this writing, they have finished eight!)
[Pictured: Mary and Bob on their front porch of their home in Dublin, Ohio.]
“ProMusica is part of our family so we miss live performances. We also miss the musicians we host in our home during concert weekends and spending time with fellow trustees and Sustaining Board members who have become our friends.”
– Bob Redfield & Mary Yerina,
Board of Trustees
Nothing can stop cellist Cora Kuyvenhoven – not even the coronavirus! Pre-pandemic, Cora embraced a busy freelance musical life in Columbus, whether it’s performing with ProMusica, playing with her cello quartet UCelli, or teaching cello students in her home studio and at Denison University. These days, it’s been challenging to adjust to so many cancelations, but Cora has found creative ways to continue engaging with her students. Most recently, she had a recital in her own backyard, featuring one-third of her studio students! So, how did it work out? “They could each bring 2-3 guests, and we had five tables spread apart by six feet each,” she said. “It was fun and our garden looked fantastic! I even helped five cellists start new gardens at their homes!”
We can be sure that Cora will continue to infuse energy into her students’ lives and onto our stages. She added, “What I look forward to the most when ProMusica can be back performing again is playing TOGETHER and responding to each other!”
[Pictured: Cora at two of her favorite spots in downtown Columbus.]
“I believe live-streaming and virtual concerts, will continue in the music world past COVID-19. Yet while it is a useful way to demonstrate for students and share with others, it does not replace the live vibrancy between the performers and the audience.”
– Cora Kuyvenhoven, cello
Executive Assistant & Board Liaison Margaret Wells and her husband Bill welcomed their daughter Abigail into the world in early January 2020. Just as Margaret was preparing for her return to work from maternity leave, the coronavirus pandemic escalated and our state swiftly shutdown. All of a sudden, her transition looked completely different from how she imagined it! The extra time at home with Abby has been a silver lining for Margaret and Bill, as they are still both working from home at the moment – but Margaret admitted that “more than one of my Zoom meetings has certainly featured a crying baby!”
In addition to her role at ProMusica, Margaret is also a soprano who sings in many of Columbus’ church choirs and is a member of LancasterChorale. When asked how the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted her singing life, she said, “The absence of live music over the past few months has been a bit of a ‘you don’t know what you’ve got ‘til it’s gone’ feeling – but music is too important and I know we will find a way for it to continue.”
[Pictured: Margaret with her husband Bill and their daughter Abigail at home in their backyard in Dublin, Ohio.]
“I went from emotionally preparing to be apart from my daughter while I was at work and she was at daycare, to trying to work at home while taking care of a 3-month old! It has been a tricky balance, but I consider myself lucky to be working with an understanding and patient team, and an organization who puts its people first.”
– Margaret Wells,
Executive Assistant &
An avid cyclist, violist Brett Allen can be spotted commuting to and from concerts and gigs on his bike – zipping through the streets of Columbus with his instrument strapped on his back. But those commutes have been much less frequent these days as we await the reopening of our theatres and performing venues. We asked Brett what he looks forward to the most when live orchestra concerts are allowed again. “To catch up with my ProMusica buddies,” he said enthusiastically. “I’ve missed the camaraderie amongst my colleagues when we are on the stage.”
Aside from continuing to stay in shape as a violist and a cyclist, Brett is keeping busy during the pandemic. Brett and his wife are foster parents, and about a month before the Governor’s Stay-at-Home order was issued, they took in four girls, all sisters, ages 8, 9, 10, and 11. “Little did we know we would be spending every hour of every day with them over the next several months,” he added. “And continuing. It has been a remake of the movie Little Women.”
Brett – we think that is amazing and our community is a better place because of your generous heart!
[Pictured: Brett on his bicycle in his Linden neighborhood.]
“Isolation is against human nature, and the pandemic reveals this. We as humans crave shared experiences, shared moments of inspiration. It’s the most natural thing for us to do. It’s food for the soul. It may be a while longer, but people will again gather—in close proximity—to share live performances of mankind’s highest musical thoughts.”
– Brett Allen, viola
In a time where live, in-person performances have all but come to a complete halt, our musicians, including violinist Eric Kline, treasure any opportunity to share their music, while maintaining a safe social distance. Most recently, board member Mary Yerina contacted us as she wanted to surprise her husband (and our other board member) Bob Redfield for their third wedding anniversary. Bob was really missing hearing live music, and she asked if it would be possible for a ProMusica musician to “safely swing by” and give a short private performance. Eric’s musical gift to Mary and Bob added to their special day. “I recognize these past months have been quite trying for many people I want to do my part to keep the music playing,” he shared.
Eric’s wife is the Director for the Center for Clinical and Translational Science at The Ohio State University Medical Center, and understandably the pandemic has kept her incredibly busy at work! So, when we asked Eric how he’s been spending time these days, he said “I am definitely keeping my two sons Henry (12) and Oliver (7) busy and entertained!”
[Pictured: Eric visiting a Dublin, Ohio neighborhood for a recent private home concert.]
“To be separated from our close friends and not be able to have our bond of music is quite tough indeed. It is with these small performances that we can, little by little, bring back the healing power of music.”
– Eric Kline, violin
Staying-in-place has meant more time for our principal harpist Jeanne Norton in her home studio, with her adorable grand-dog Gracie who has been visiting and keeping her company. Not only has the coronavirus impacted her performing schedule, but as Lecturer and Instructor in Harp at both The Ohio State University School of Music and Wittenberg University, she’s also had to embrace utilizing technology to continue teaching her students.
Jeanne’s outlook remains hopeful for the music industry. “Though many restrictions are still in place, music is alive,” she said. Like many others Jeanne looks forward to the time when ProMusica musicians are once again together, bringing the orchestra’s music back into the lives of our Columbus community.
[Pictured: Jeanne in her home studio in Upper Arlington.]
“I miss making music with my colleagues—the creativity, expression, discussion and of course, the excitement of live performance. However, this isolation has offered opportunities to dive into new ways of staying connected, sometimes through means of the internet, and sometimes simply by opening windows while practicing for the enjoyment of neighbors.”
– Jeanne Norton, principal harp
In her role at American Electric Power (AEP) as Director of Corporate & Field Human Resources, our board member Julie Rutter knows how to successfully advocate for practices and policies to ultimately have a positive impact on employees. One could say that she does an equally successful job of advocating for and supporting ProMusica – as a longtime board member, she has served in several leadership positions including Board President. And now, the ProMusica family has become an extension of her own family. Her husband Bob has volunteered on the ProMusica Sustaining Board, and their three girls, Emily, Olivia, and Callie can be seen in attendance at the Southern Theatre, Franklin Park Conservatory for our Summer Music Series, or even at Wolf’s Ridge for our Sessions. Now that’s truly a family affair!
Our board members are always helping the organization to look ahead, so we asked Julie how she thinks live music will evolve in response to the pandemic. “Weirdly, I am excited by this question,” she said, “because I know that ProMusica has already positioned itself at the forefront of transformative technology, performance, and audience connection activities, and so we are well positioned to face this challenge. That things will change is inevitable, but the opportunity to chart a new course is exciting, and I look forward to being a part of it.”
[Pictured: Julie Rutter with her husband Bob, daughters Emily, Olivia, Callie, and the family dog Daisy, outside their home in Grandview Heights.]
“I most look forward to the energy, spontaneity, and opportunity for human connection that can only be generated by a live and in-person performance. There are so many open wounds in the world right now, and music and the arts are some of the best balms for the pain we are all living with. It will be a relief to have access to that again.”
– Julie Rutter, Board of Trustees
Photo credit: Rick Buchanan Photography
Safe social distancing practices were observed during photo sessions.