On my way across the Bay Bridge, I had butterflies in my stomach. Since I’ve barely been anywhere more exciting than the grocery store for most of 2020, the prospect of seeing an up-close performance by a world-class musician—not on Instagram or Zoom!—felt like blood returning to my veins.
I was one of the raffle winners of the San Francisco Symphony’s 1:1 Concerts, private, socially-distanced performances with one musician and up to two audience members from the same household. The orchestra piloted the series with donors and volunteers last month, and is now holding them for free once a week through a public lottery.
In the before-times, the image of a masked violinist playing for my boyfriend and I, 30 feet away and in masks, would have looked like a scene from a dystopian sci-fi. But with society’s current state of artistic deprivation, it’s a lifeline. Not to mention, an opportunity. In this pared-down version of concert-going is a chance to experience classical music in a casual, unusually personal setting—the opposite of the pomp and circumstance that typically goes along with a trip to Davies Symphony Hall.