Nanaimo Chamber Orchestra director Karl Rainer and his sons performed for neighbours on their back porch on March 29. (Photo courtesy Jane Wilson)

Vancouver Island musicians in quarantine thank neighbours with backyard performance

Nanaimo Chamber Orchestra director Karl Rainer and his sons play for those in self-isolation

On Sunday afternoon Karl Rainer and his three sons serenaded the neighbourhood to entertain those living in self-isolation and to thank those who have been helping with the Rainers’ own self-isolation.

Rainer, violinist and director of the Nanaimo Chamber Orchestra, has been in quarantine at home with his family since his son Jeremy started showing symptoms of COVID-19.

“He seems to have pulled through just fine but we’ve been on 100 per cent lockdown so neighbours have been dropping off groceries once a week,” Rainer said. “To be fair, we were relatively well-stocked and in a pretty good situation for trying to live through something like this, but everybody’s been going slightly stir crazy.”

Rainer said his children – violinist Benjamin, 13, cellist Daniel and violist Jeremy, 10-year-old twins – were keeping up with their instruments while in isolation, but the boys were getting restless.

“Two weeks of doing nothing but practising and hanging around the house gets on their nerves,” he said. “So we looked for some way to interact with some of the other people and the neighbours that we have without actually getting close to them.”

Rainer and his sons decided on performing a recital on their back porch and invited their neighbours to watch from their yards. Benjamin said the show was originally conceived as a gift to some older neighbours.

“When we heard our neighbours, who I think they’re over 60, were self-isolating, we thought, ‘Hey, why not do a concert on the porch for them just across porches?’ And then it turned into all immediate neighbours came and watched,” he said.

Benjamin, Daniel and Jeremy busked on the waterfront last year as a chamber music trio and dipped into that repertoire in their performance. They also played music that they had planned to perform at the provincial music festival before it was called off due to COVID-19.

“To call it a concert might be a little bit of an overstatement but it was one of these nice ways to have an interaction with people and sort of say ‘thank you’ and show that art is not totally dead in this whole thing,” Rainer said.

Rainer said the audience was appreciative, and not just for the music. He said the performance was a meaningful moment of community solidarity.

“I think it was something that they appreciated just for what it was, but I think in the context of where we are it was appreciated that much more,” he said. “It was just a feeling of, ‘Hey, we are all in this together and we are all still alive and going forward and we’ll all get through this.”

READ ALSO: Nanaimo Chamber Orchestra presents free outdoor ‘best of’ concert



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