We are glad to continue posting more interviews with different profiles related to the lute (professional musicians, teachers, societies, luthiers ...) with the main intention of highlighting the impact of COVID on the particular activity of this sector.

Chris Goodwin answered our questions on behalf of the Lute Society, where they have dealing with their own issues related to the pandemic.

I hope this can help to put a spotlight on the situation of this very small segment of the music sector.

If you are interested on posting your own point of view, your initiatives or the difficulties that have arisen, do not hesitate to contact me.

First of all, thanks Chris for sharing your experience during this difficult time.

The pandemic in Europe locked us all up in our houses around March 2020, in what situation were the Lute Society at that moment and what do you remember from the first moments?

Awareness grew slowly but gathered pace like a snowball running down a hill. The Lute Society had a lovely residential weekend on 5-8 March 2020, oblivious to the impending disaster; the last fun lute event before disaster really struck.

I was vacillating over whether to attend the French Lute Society meeting in Paris, the last weekend of the month, but the week before it was made impossible to travel there, and then we cancelled our joint meeting with the Viola da Gamba Society, planned for April … and all subsequent meetings.  

... after a few weeks, the restrictions become the new normality and everything indicates that we will spend several months with a very limited activity, first, and with severe restrictions later. How does this situation impact your planning and your projects?

Also, right after the first weeks of shock, alternative ways to continue the activity in a non-face-to-face way begin to appear, what initiatives, ideas, projects do you find at that time to continue your activity?

People have been very resourceful. All the teachers who did not already do so started to give online lessons. A TV producer who is on the committee of the Lute Society, set up a Youtube channel for us, and performers made films of themselves giving recitals or lectures, for a small fee, so that we could make up ‘virtual meetings’, consisting of half a dozen Youtube films, and so far we have published four of these, in September and November 2020, and February and May 2021. 

Do you think that the new ways of working that emerged in 2020 will be permanent? To what degree do you think you will continue to develop activities in this same way?

Also, right after the first weeks of shock, alternative ways to continue the activity in a non-face-to-face way begin to appear, what initiatives, ideas, projects do you find at that time to continue your activity?

It has been widely remarked that the pandemic has brought on a decade’s technological advance in one year, and this is certainly true.
We will keep many of the changes we have made, as improvements; for instance the Lute Society’s committee meetings are now Zoom conferences – which enables us to have overseas representation on our committee. 
Filming or live streaming of the Lute Society’s concerts and talks will really have to be permanent now. 

In general, perhaps more pronounced way in Spain, the focus has been on the difficulties of certain sectors in the face of COVID, such as the hospitality industry, but I consider that music has been the great forgotten. What have you missed during this time regarding institutions or society? Do you think things could have been done differently?

Of course for individual musicians Covid was a catastrophe. There have been stories of forced sales of instruments, and one good professional player reduced to washing cars to supplement their income. But the effect of the pandemic has been extraordinarily uneven.
While the pandemic was a disaster for professional players, for so many craft and hobby providers, such as the Lute Societies, they experienced huge increases in sales and subscriptions, because lute playing is a perfect indoor hobby.
Many people who had been planning to take up the lute for years have bought an instrument and stocked up on sheet music, so sales have soared.

One year later ... how does 2021 look for the Lute Society? Is the pre-covid activity being reactivated?

What goes up must come down – it remains to be seen whether people who took up the lute when they were trapped at home in the pandemic continue to play as things go back to normal.

We are planning to having concert and lecture meetings again from July 2021, though of course the government could change the rules again.

Of course from the British point of view, there is also a lot of worry that the lives of players will be made much harder by visa restrictions, and will British luthiers be able to sell lutes on the Continent?

Can you tell us about what projects you have underway and also how we can support your activity?

Keep buying sheet music, keep subscribing to the Lute Societies, support lute players by booking online lessons and buying tickets for online concerts!

Thanks again for your time Chris and all best for the next months. Take care.

I would like to remind everyone about the Lute Society website: you can subscribe to be a member (or renew your membership) and also visit their online store, where you can buy their excellent journal and many other publications.

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