Article about Let's Get Personal

Selby and Friends: Musicians film virtual concert to survive coronavirus

Emily MacDonald - Wentworth Courier  May 5, 2020 

Selby and Friends recorded a concert at Sydney Grammar School just before the pandemic decimated the arts industry.

In the wake of Carriageworks going into administration, acclaimed chamber musician Kathryn Selby has revealed the lengths artists are going to in order to stay afloat during the pandemic.

The artistic director of Selby and Friends pulled together her fellow performers, cellist Umberto Clerici of Paddington and Turramurra violinist Andrew Haveron, to film a movie length concert to an audience of none inside the empty music rooms of Sydney Grammar School in Darlinghurst.

The move was made in early March just before the clock struck midnight on coronavirus as the Northbridge pianist had the dawning realisation she had no idea if she would be able to perform her season.

The concert, which should have been played across the country this week, is available online to ticketholders until May 12 and plans are underway to film a second concert at the school on May 30 in lieu of the concerts scheduled for July.

“At my concerts we always talk from the stage so they are used to me introducing pieces,” Ms Selby said.

 “During the recording I had to edit myself out at a couple of points because I kept crying. “Everyone around the world is getting to grips with the fact that we can’t work as we used to work, we can’t live as we used to live. I think for performers that ratchets up a little more because that’s how we express ourselves – by reaching out to people.” 

As many of Ms Selby’s loyal subscribers pre-purchased tickets to all five of this year’s concerts, only the first of which they were able to see live at the start of March, she is unable to offer the tickets to the virtual concert at a discounted rate. While some may baulk at paying full price for the virtual experience, Ms Selby hopes they see value in the powerful performance which can be viewed as many times as you like during the concert week.

“I needed to do something in order to encourage my subscribers to stay with me so I can try and get through this and get to the other end,” Ms Selby said. “I found out yesterday I missed out on a government grant. I don’t have any philanthropy so I basically survive on ticket sales. “To get even 500 people in one venue is again completely unthinkable so there is no idea of when we can possibly return to what we do to actually function as an industry. You probably read as I did about Carriageworks which is just devastating.”

Carriageworks arts centre in Eveleigh went into voluntary administration on Monday night with chief executive Blair French announcing all casual staff and half of the permanent workers had been stood down. “Carriageworks generates 75 per cent of its revenue outside of government funding, primarily through on-site events and programs,” read a public statement. “The sudden cancellation or postponement of six months of activities due to restrictions on public gatherings has resulted in an irreparable loss of income.”

To buy a virtual chamber music ticket visit selbyandfriends.com.au

Articles and Interviews