Waiting in a lineup isn't a particularly exciting proposition, even if it is for a COVID-19 vaccine. But for residents in Powell River, the wait for a shot in the arm is music to the ears.
Since the public immunization program rolled out in the Coastal community last week, people waiting at the Powell River Recreation Complex at opening time have been treated to the sounds of the cello from the finger tips of world-renowned maestro Arthur Arnold, the music director of the Moscow Symphony Orchestra.
Arthur, who lives part-time in Powell River, said he heard about the need for volunteers at the vaccine clinic and wanted to be part of the effort in his own way.
“I always try to use music as a communication to connect people and make them feel better," he said. “I think that's our main task, to give and connect people through music."
At 9 a.m., when the clinic opens, Arthur sets up his cello and a chair by the front entrance, performing for folks waiting to get inside for their vaccine. Depending on the weather, he'll play for about 20 minutes from his cello repertoire, be it sonatas, concertos and pieces written for the instrument. He's hoping to play every weekday for the next month. He's also volunteering inside the clinic where needed.
Arthur, who is also the co-founder and artistic director of the Pacific Region International Summer Music Academy (PRISMA) Festival, got inspired to volunteer from fellow cello player and PRISMA board member Mélie DeChamplain, Director for Powell River for the Coastal Community of Care.
Mélie said both the residents and staff at the clinic appreciate the daily performances by the accomplished conductor.
“It's very special to have Arthur play each morning when the clinic opens," she said. “His music brings so much joy and warmth to everyone who gets a chance to hear him. He really sets the tone for the day at the clinic."
While the pandemic has been a forced sabbatical for Arthur, who normally keeps a frantic travel schedule around world, it has given him a chance to take a pause. And it's given him time to reconnect with his musical roots and his love of the cello. He's been able to practice every day, something he hasn't done for two decades. The break has also given Arthur the opportunity to give back to the community that's now become his second home.
“I hope the little bit I can give helps people and gives them a little ray of light," he said.