Measuring the pandemic’s impact on L.A.’s freelance musicians

Posted on: March 19, 2021

Violinist Mei Chang (second from left) and clarinetist Don Foster (center) with members of the Pasadena Symphony at a video recording session during the pandemic.

 

“Being a professional musician at the moment, [clarinetist Don] Foster feels, is like being an Olympic athlete who is trying to stay in shape with no idea when you’ll get to compete,” writes Jim Farber in Monday’s (3/15) San Francisco Classical Voice. “How do you measure the psychological impact of the pandemic on performers? … Foster, violinist Mei Chang, and harpist Allison Allport are members of the vast network of freelance musicians [in] Los Angeles…. ‘I’m a regularly contracted member of … the Santa Barbara Symphony, the New West Symphony (in Thousand Oaks), and the Pasadena Symphony,’ says Foster, ‘but my principal employer is (or was) the Los Angeles Opera Orchestra. For the last year, I haven’t been doing much at all musically.’ … ‘For freelancers,’ says Allison Allport, ‘your career has to be a diverse portfolio…. [Before the pandemic] it seemed like maybe I was doing too much. Then … I had to file for unemployment.’ … Allport … has devoted time to writing an e-textbook on music appreciation. Chang [upgraded] her studio [and perfected] her playing of the Baroque violin…. ‘This is a time to improve, not just wait,’ says Chang.”