Respecting Social Distancing, Neighbors and Essential Workers Enjoy the Show
By LILY TINOCO | Reporter
As the weather gets warmer and social distancing measures remain in place, local musicians are using their craft to cheer up neighbors and to thank essential employees for their commitment through the pandemic.
Palisadians Billy Tobenkin and Lydia Yun have taken to their Riviera lawn to serenade their neighbors. Tobenkin plays cello while Yun plays violin, and the duo holds impromptu concerts a few times per week.
The two would normally be performing with their string quartet, Cattus Quartet, at corporate events or weddings—but the pandemic abruptly halted those plans.
“As musicians and performers, one of the big thrills is sharing your music with people and performing and having that connection, and we’ve been starved of that,” Tobenkin said to the Palisadian-Post.
Tobenkin and Yun play a blend of classical and modern music, and have found an unexpected joy in the reactions from their community, surprising individuals on their afternoon strolls through the neighborhood with live music.
“We did this partly because we wanted to get out of the house and play—we didn’t know what kind of reaction we would get,” Yun said. “But to see how people have reacted to the music has been wonderful.”
“We wanted to find a way to share our music and connect with our neighbors,” Tobenkin added.
“I think music is like a bridge, it can connect people during tough times.”
The times have proven that many Palisadian musicians agree and continue to find ways to get their music out to people.
Near the Alphabet Streets, longtime resident David Low and his wife, Neli Nikolaeva—both professional musicians—have similarly been treating their neighbors to music from their front porch.
The cello-violin duo have played through an array of genres, from classic to contemporary to tangos, and are even taking requests.
“It was something we missed doing, and we thought it would cheer people up and bring us all together and communicate with our neighbors in a different way,” Low said to the Post. “We’re very much enjoying loving and playing for them.”
“It is a gift to have them share their talents and soothe our restless hearts … their music, in a time of need, brings us together,” said George Bloom, their nextdoor neighbor, about the porch performances.
Palisadian sisters Avery and Alexzandra Morris also offered their musical talents by having an impromptu Mother’s Day violin and viola concert from their front lawn on Sunday, May 10, in Marquez Knolls.
The sisters shared that neighbors excitedly carried over lawn chairs or drove by with their windows open, enjoying the live music from a safe distance.
“One elderly couple who shared their devastation for not being able to attend the Hollywood Bowl this summer brought folding chairs and a bag of cherries to share, as if the … lawn was the new Hollywood Bowl,” they shared with the Post.
The Morris sisters both studied at Bard College Conservatory in New York and have participated in music festivals, including the Aspen Music Festival, Sarasota Festival and the Heifetz International Music Festival.
Over on Pico Boulevard in Santa Monica, a group of Palisades’ younger musicians gathered to play for Trader Joe’s employees and seniors on Sunday morning, May 10.
Palisades Charter High School students Layla Adeli, Vera Fang and Sophie Zhu formed a violin trio and have performed at events such as the Pacific Palisades Woman’s Club Home Tour, Senior Tea and Grant Awards.
This time they thought they would perform to musically soothe individuals who may need it.
The trio began performing at 7 a.m. during the store’s first hour of operation, which is dedicated to senior customers.
Adeli said they wanted to give back to the grocery store workers who work long hours, as well as senior shoppers who might be living alone or not going out as much by brightening their day with some music.
“We wanted to find a way to give back to the community for all it’s done for us … we hope that our music motivates the people around us to keep going, even though this pandemic is happening,” Fang said. “It will take a while … but we will get back to normal.”
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