Tales from a Time of Covid 19 – Seventh in a Series

Dear Readers, I have welcomed these last few months as a time of peace and reflection. It has afforded me the opportunity to return to the very fundamentals of my profession and reevaluate my message as an artist and think about what it is I would like to communicate to the public through my art moving forward.

This I am grateful to be doing from home in the north of Italy, in Padua, a true treasure and home to the famous Basilica of Saint Antonio, which just celebrated his Saint Day a few weeks ago.

For the last few years, I have found myself traveling constantly from place to place as a true nomad in dedication to my profession. This has left me with little time to enjoy the simplicity of a home-life, such as that of my neighbors playing music from their homes, the caresses of a fresh summer breeze while enjoying a cappuccino on the piazza, or taking a long walk on the Lungomare and gazing out into the vast Adriatic without a care in the world. Therefore, although the circumstances of this free time are far from ideal given the suffering this is causing the world around me, I have tried to make the best of it and enjoy these simple pleasures.

On a more general note, I’d like to turn towards a possibly not-so-apparent opportunity for the reader. The void caused by this terrible pandemic has in turn also opened up an opportunity for our society to exercise an essential part of the body: our ears. The chaos, clutter, and political strife that have recently characterized our daily lives has for many of us mended our ears shut. As a result we’ve forgotten how to exercise one of the most characteristic human abilities we are blessed with: listening.

As Gianni, a friend and well-known local of the nearby town of Jesolo said to me once: “As we get older what we think we know becomes what we know we know”. To elaborate, he meant that what we are taught throughout the course of our adolescent lives becomes ingrained in us and confirmed through experience. This can only be achieved through attentively listening both to the world around us, as well as to our inner-voices.

However, how in the world does one listen to an “inner-voice”, one that characteristically speaks without words? One strong possibility, and the one that I as a musician advocate for is…MUSIC! Music is precisely one of the few distinctive art forms that communicate without words. Melody, harmony, counterpoint and rhythm are its fundamental components, each of which work interdependently in a way that injects countless signals into our minds and bodies and gets us singing, moving, dancing, and most importantly, listening.

Listening to the music we love has an inexplicable way of touching our souls, exercising our minds and even providing us answers to life’s existential questions that we are all inevitably faced with. It gives us strength in times of weakness, and teaches us vulnerability and fragility in a society where the presentation of resilience and perfection is highly overvalued.

In conclusion, dear reader, take the time to listen to your favorite music. Explore new genres and sounds you may not have been exposed to before. There is a reason certain works of music have been denoted “masterpieces”. Beyond the technical ingenuities of the great composers I am blessed to be able to dedicate my life to these so-called masterpieces which attained their place in history because of their ability to open our hearts and, in turn, heal us from the difficulties our paths encounter along the way of this all-too-short journey called life.

Listen closely, listen attentively, and above all, ENJOY! Stay healthy my friends!

Un abrazo,

François López-Ferrer

François López-Ferrer is one of the most promising young conductors on the symphonic stage today. The U.S.-Spanish artist is currently assistant conductor of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra and May Festival and Associated Conductor of the Orquesta Sinfónica Nacional de Chile.