"Should we shake hands onstage or not?" Jun-Ching Lin remembers the subject coming up with music director Julian Kuerti, prior to a Kalamazoo Symphony Orchestra concert on March 6, as the spread of COVID-19 in the US began to increase.
They did use the traditional greeting between concertmaster and conductor. But by the following week, the rest of the season was cancelled. In a conversation with Cara Lieurance, Lin says he's stayed in contact almost weekly with Kuerti during the shutdown, and they worked on the first of a video series called the KSO Canon Project. Grateful that both orchestras took steps to continue to pay their musicians, for Lin, the greatest challenge of the shutdown is the loss of group music-making he'd been taking for granted -- around 150 concerts per year. "I am a social musician," says Lin. Although he's found opportunities to play in socially-distanced settings, Lin says playing with a mask is a challenge for two reasons: 1) his glasses keep fogging up; and 2) he didn't realize how much information he was reading from another player's expressions during a performance. Despite those inconveniences, he says there is nothing more rewarding than playing music with others.