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Elmira woman’s take on a piano recital

For the last two weeks, Tuesday nights have been concert time for Beatrice Wideman’s Bur Oak Drive, Elmira neighbours. They gather on her driveway while she plays the piano, the windows thrown wide open to let the music flow – “I do it to spread joy and love.” [Damon MacLean]

Strumming on a guitar out on the front porch is one thing, but when you’re instrument of choice is a grand piano, an impromptu concert takes a bit more planning.

Elmira’s Beatrice Wideman has overcome that hurdle by opening the windows of her Bur Oak Drive home so that neighbours can hear her at the keyboard.

Again Tuesday night, her driveway was lined with people eager to hear her perform classic hymns, many of them humming along.

It’s not the stage of a concert hall or even the church settings she’s used to playing, but it’s a way to share music during a time of coronavirus precautions. She gets to share her love of music with her neighbours, and that suits Wideman just fine.

There are have been two such performances thus far, inspired by similar concerts in places such as Italy that she’s seen posted online. While dragging the piano out into the street probably isn’t an option, the open windows are the next best thing.

Wideman’s performances are strictly acoustic – there’s no amplification needed, even though she’s inside playing for an audience outside her home. Although there was the faint sound of construction during this week’s evening performance, there were also a significant crowd response  filling the air,  people humming along to most tunes.

When Wideman was seven years old she began piano lessons but never performed in front of an audience until her later teenage years. Prior to the COVID-19 situation, Wideman regularly performed at Bloomingdale Mennonite Church .

“I also had been playing at Community Care Concepts – we have a day program,” she added, though the program has been cancelled for the time being due to the pandemic.

Now that many programs have moved over to video conference calls, there hasn’t been much call for music. A driveway concert is an adequate replacement, she notes.

Wideman’s performances are open to all, but space is fairly limited given physical-distancing requirements and provincial rules limiting social gatherings to 10 people.

“You can come, but I can’t have too many people.”

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