Music in the Time of Coronavirus: A Presenter’s View

An die Musik Live is an intimate listening venue on the second floor of an historic Baltimore townhouse, located in the heart of the Mt. Vernon Cultural District. Voted several times as one of the top 100 jazz venues in the world by Downbeat Magazine, An die Musik has been serving Baltimore for 30 years. It began as a trendsetting CD store (the first in the nation to sell CDs without their long cardboard boxes), and then began to present live music 18 years ago and has presented over 4,500 shows. 

We have chosen to innovate during this pandemic, as we’ve done during previous economic and social challenges. We have always operated as part of the community, so people have rallied around our efforts to get live streaming running and continually improve with each concert. We are charging $5 for a “ticket” that gives access to the livestream concert and remains accessible for one week to re-watch the performance. Ticket purchasers are encouraged to add a donation to help support the musicians and venue.

We’ve been privileged to present Baltimore-based musicians, who are among the best in the world, and who choose to carry on the historic jazz tradition cultivated right here over many generations. Some of the jazz musicians who readily embraced the live stream opportunity are Warren Wolf, Sean Jones, Eric Kennedy, Joel Santiago, and Clarence Ward, III. Several classical and folk musicians have also performed, including Michael Sheppard, Katherine Needleman, Seth Kibel and Caleb Stine.

Our live streaming events provide not just entertainment, but also a sense of belonging, just as our venue did before the pandemic. Regular patrons find comfort in watching performances taking place in a familiar space. And we are also reaching an ever-expanding audience of people who live (sometimes very far) outside of Baltimore. Some are the musicians’ family and friends; others have heard about our listening room and dreamed of visiting.

I’ve observed that each show’s audience has a unique personality. Some groups encourage the musicians and paste emojis via the chat box, while others are quiet, giving bravos only at the end as electronic applause.

We plan to continue live streaming well into the future, as it will take time for gatherings to become safe and for people to feel comfortable in groups again. I think this pandemic experience will get people used to the option to attend events virtually. I appreciate Baltimore’s continued support of our efforts to maintain a place for musicians of many genres to gather, where they hone their craft and grace so many with their creative vision.

[Photo of Clarence Ward,III and Aaron Hill live streaming at An die Musik by Henry Wong]

A native of Hong Kong, Henry Wong has lived in the U.S. since attending high school at St. John’s Preparatory School in Minnesota. He attended Pennsylvania State University as a Biology major, and worked in a neurology lab at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. In 1990, his hobby took over, and he founded the CD store An die Musik in Towson. Reacting to changes in the retail music industry, he moved the business to Mt. Vernon in 1997, and then added live music presentations.

[For more info about An die Musik, and an up to date schedule of all their live streaming concerts, visit http://andiemusiklive.com/]

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