A once bustling Mildred Owen Concert Hall often features sold-out shows, but with Pacifica Performances idle during the pandemic, you could hear a pin drop in the venerable hall.
Morning Nichols, artistic director, said all musicians who have played at Pacifica Performances over the years are having problems now dealing with the pandemic. And they are hardly alone. Live music is just one of many industries all but halted during a global pandemic.
“For months, COVID has eliminated the music business,” she said via email. “For the most part, there are no touring musicians, as all venues have been closed. Most of the venues and musicians are doing livestreams on Facebook, YouTube and other sites.
“We have done one livestream so far, as it was very complicated to get things to where we could do it at all,” Nichols said. “In fact, right now due to the restrictions of the county and the state, we are unable to continue to livestream until we are allowed to have even the small amount of people we need at one time to do one in the concert hall.”
Nichols said Pacifica Performances is also bound by rules of ASCAP, an agency that collects royalties on musical compositions.
The next recorded performance for Pacifica Performances features Pacificans Kay Stern and her daughter Shaleah performing classical violin duos. Stern is concertmaster for San Francisco Opera.
“We were the first people in the hall after about six months’ time and we played through our duets just a couple days before Shaleah went to attend the Juilliard School,” said Stern by email. “We have all needed to reimagine our lives.
“There’s not much room for live music at the moment so there is much struggle financially and emotionally for all of us friends and colleagues.”
Stern said it was terrific to be on stage with her daughter again, sharing music the way they always have.
John Worley and his Mo Chi band of jazz musicians performed a number of Worley’s original songs at Pacifica Performances’ first and so far only livestream concert Nov. 14. Worley has
been performing at Pacifica Performances since the 1980s and always looks forward to the shows. He’s a jazz trumpet lecturer at
Stanford University who doesn’t have any students this semester due to the virus. He teaches trumpet students privately at his home, so that income continues. He had to cancel a Christmas show.
“I miss going out and playing, but I know I have a responsibility to my wife and my friends, whenever I see them again, to do the best I can to respect the virus,” he said.
Singer Lavay Smith makes a popular annual appearance at Pacifica Performances with her Red Hot Skillet Lickers. She formed a group with husband Chris Siebert on piano for a livestreaming concert hosted by SF Jazz this Thursday.
Blues guitarist Chris Cain, another regular at Pacifica Performances, canceled two international tours this year.
“It’s a big drag all the way,” he said. “I started thinking I was never going to see these guys I’ve been playing with again. It’s a shame. I feel bad for people who are going out of business.”