Last night I had the wonderful experience of performing Bach's Johannes-Passion with the Apollo Chorus of Chicago and the Elmhurst Symphony Orchestra. I say "performing" because, recognizing that we had already cancelled our performance on Saturday and would probably cancel Sunday's as well, this was our one shot. Three months of preparation, hours of study and practicing German diction, gone. And I'm on my second half-personal-day at home dealing with the cleanup, which has included a few hundred emails, changes to the chorus website and ticketing system, consulting with the rest of the Board...and grocery shopping.
We cancelled Sunday's concert in part because Illinois Governor JB Pritzker ordered all events with 1,000 or more attendees cancelled, and recommended events with more than 250 people also be cancelled. Since we have 100 singers and 75 instrumentalists on stage...well, there you go. No audience allowed.
This makes me no different than other performers and athletes all over the world right now. In Chicago alone, the list of local cancellations has dozens of items. Just now, the Chicago Teachers Union has demanded that Chicago Public Schools close as well. For parents and children who live with food insecurity, that could hurt a lot.
And yet, the thing that enraged me, and has generated near-universal opprobrium, was the President's speech on Wednesday night. Some reactions:
- "Trump’s 10-minute Oval Office address Wednesday night reflected not only his handling of the coronavirus crisis but, in some ways, much of his presidency. It was riddled with errors, nationalist and xenophobic in tone, limited in its empathy, and boastful of both his own decisions and the supremacy of the nation he leads."—Washington Post
- "This latest Trump speech was uniquely incompetent and inappropriate.... In my view it had three problems: how it was conceived; how it was written; and how it was delivered."—Former presidential speechwriter James Fallows
- "At every turn, President Trump’s policy regarding coronavirus has unfolded as if guided by one rule: How can I make this crisis worse?"—David Frum
- "Rather than focusing on what we need to do here at home, the president focused on trying to ward off the evil that he insisted was coming from abroad."—Chicago Council on Global Affairs president Ivo Daalder
- "Donald Trump is panicky and clueless"—Kevin Drum
- "Trump is singularly incapable of addressing this credibly or effectively, with anything like the right mix of realism and hope the crisis demands."—Andrew Sullivan
We live in really weird times. If only we had a leader to reassure us.