Brazilian pianist Clelia Iruzun talks about artistic survival during Covid19

I had a very nice schedule of performances for 2020 and suddenly all the dates started to disappear from my diary one after the other.

From March onwards I had no concerts. My last live concert was a recital on the 7th March in New York on the day that the Mayor declared a state of emergency there. They decided to go ahead with the concert but everything was very strange and quite a lot of the public decided not to go, so I had half a house. Anyway it was brave of the ones who came as the atmosphere of fear was already strong in the city.

I felt upset and disappointed to see all my plans for the year end in a moment but I knew I was only one of the thousands of artists who were in the same situation.

Since March when I realised I was not going to have performances I decided to start making home videos. I started with some Brazilian composers, introducing the pieces. I also recorded some Bach, Mozart, Scarlatti and so on. I took part in an online festival in July called Encontro Internacional de Pianistas de Piracicaba which had the participation of several pianists from the USA, Brazil, Colombia, Israel, and other countries.

It was very interesting to teach students in different parts of the world by Zoom and listen to lectures and recitals without leaving my home in London. I recorded a recital for the Pianissimo festival in Colombia.

I also have a charity called Poliphonia ( with some colleagues and all our events had to be cancelled. Our aim is to encourage more musicians, especially the next generation of artists to play more music from the Americas. I was especially sorry for the Young Artists series which we were so enthusiastic about, but we will restart as soon as possible to hold live concerts. 

We managed to do one live streaming in September in which I took part with a singer and a flutist and to make a documentary called “Nazareth among friends” which are both on You Tube. I also released two new CDs at SOMM Recordings which I had recorded in 2019. The first with the Quintets by Henrique Oswald and Amy Beach which I recorded with the Coull Quartet and the second with the Concertos by Henrique Oswald and Saint-Saens and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and Jac van Steen.

Apart from these activities I used the time to revisit some of my old repertoire and to learn new music.

I think this whole experience of surviving as an artist during the pandemic has brought many new ideas to all of us The concept of live streaming a performance may continue even when we are able to fill a hall with people, as it gives us the opportunity to bring music to many more people in different countries. It has made music accessible to new audiences who might not have considered listening to a classical concert before all this.

The sheer amount of live streaming and popularity of concerts online which exploded during this time has shown how much we all need a form of “Art” to fill the gaps of our existence.