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50 Violinists from 50 States, One Big Thank You

January 19, 2021 | by

Expressing our profound gratitude to healthcare workers through the language of art.

As a professional classical violinist, I had a lot of time on my hands during the pandemic since concerts and gigs were canceled or postponed. I began practicing new pieces, like “Salut d’Amour”, a beautiful short song by the English composer Edward Elgar, written as an engagement present to his soon-to-be wife. It’s full of love and romance and lyricism.

One of my relatives is an ER doctor in NYC, and reading the news, I was thinking about what she must go through every day. I wanted to do something to show her support and care during this tremendously difficult time. The more I thought about it, the more I wanted to play for her this beautiful piece of music by Elgar. Maybe she’d find solace and comfort in it, even if for a moment. But knowing that healthcare workers all over the country were defending us on the frontlines, reaching out to one doctor in New York didn’t feel like enough. So I took on the goal to organize violinists from every state in America to record “Salut d’Amour” and virtually play it together, as a way to show unity and gratitude for our healthcare workers.

Aviva Chertok

I knew musicians from so many places, and the classical community is tight-knit, so I was sure I could find 50 violinists in all states within a week. With enough hubris to get me started, I began reaching out to friends from Florida, Michigan, Kentucky, California, as many as I could each day, and to my excitement, most said yes to the project right away. After 20-some states, I began asking for friends to recommend musicians, finding a violinist from the Milwaukee Symphony who studied at my university, a woman from the Hawaii Symphony who had studied with my same teacher back in Chicago, and more with surprising connections.

Eventually, it got down to places like New Hampshire and the Dakotas, and I was emailing symphony personnel managers and professors at various universities. Two weeks later, I had 50 violinists from every state in America practicing Elgar’s piece at their homes and starting to send in their recordings.

With God’s merciful hand guiding the process, a friend from North Carolina (violinist turned professional filmmaker) volunteered hours and hours of his time to edit the videos so that 50 tracks of violinists playing a song would sound perfectly in sync. In the end, violinists from as far away as the Arkansas Symphony and Boise Philharmonic expressed their joy at taking part in the project and making music while their concert halls lay shuttered and dark.

Fulfilling this project was a magical experience. It lifted the spirits of many musicians as we bonded together to create a gift of music that comes from our very essence. And it gave us the opportunity to express our profound gratitude to healthcare workers through the language of art that brings God’s light into the world.

Please watch the video below:

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