The year 2020 has been a trying year for individuals, organizations, and businesses, all of which are doing everything possible to survive intact while figuring out how to move forward during difficult times.
Darke County Center for the Arts struggles with how to continue to achieve its mission to provide culturally enriching performances in our community at a time when people performing together should remain at least six feet from each other and large groups cannot gather together in closed spaces. Essentially everything planned for DCCA’s 2020 season has been canceled or postponed due to the uncertainty surrounding the impact on society of COVID-19; however, DCCA staff and officials remain committed to somehow continuing the organization’s valued Arts In Education program which presents outstanding artists performing for all public schools students in Darke County. And that determination and fortitude was demonstrated with verve and energy last week when DCCA presented The Moxie Strings to local high school students!
But wait, you say! Visitors are not welcome in the schools, students are restrained from close contact with crowds of contemporaries — how did this miracle come to pass without endangering the safety and well-being of youngsters and staff? Through spirited innovation, that’s how!
DCCA Artistic Director David Warner knew that the talented artists he’d booked to inspire and entertain local audiences really need to continue performing not only to support themselves, but also to do what they were born to do. So he diligently worked with those dedicated performers as they searched and experimented with ideas for reaching audiences while maintaining safe distances; eventually, David and the artists devised plans for streaming shows directly to school classrooms and students’ personal devices. Using the only medium available to them right now while coping with the startling differences created by performing for an unseen audience, The Moxie Strings brought charisma and energy to their first-ever virtual show which also made history as the very first such presentation by DCCA.
Diana Ladio and Alison Lynn are classically trained musicians who soon after forming The Moxie Strings in 2007 were inspired to not only perform, but also to teach. Their dedication to eclectic exploration is communicated to students through their music and their words, focusing on musical self-discovery and incorporating all musical genres into their performances. Diana plays her 5-stringed electric fiddle with verve and flair; Alison is a contemporary cellist, skillfully using a newly invented instrument that is essentially electrified strings on a stick. The duo additionally utilizes a variety of audio effect pedals to add enticing percussion for their songs. Their playlist for the virtual show included a set of traditional Irish reels and technically complex yet highly accessible original compositions, all accompanied by background stories on how those pieces came to be.
While emphasizing the many opportunities offered by music, The Moxie Strings encouraged their audience to follow the path they had trod themselves to discover something you love to do, and then figure out how to make a career doing what you love. Their friendly and enlightening conversation was interspersed with fascinating footage of the women playing their instruments in a concert venue before no audience except for those who were recording the show; performing for a camera instead of living, breathing people makes for a different kind of energy exchange between artist and audience, but the spunky spirit and abundant talent of Diana and Alison shone through for the benefit of students watching on screens.
The Moxie Strings will also soon be live-streaming a master class to Greenville High School orchestra students, sharing their expertise and enthusiasm with youngsters who will be able to see where their own involvement with music might lead. After that, DCCA will be presenting three more Arts In Education performances via Zoom and YouTube, continuing to make alternative plans, doing the best it can to achieve its mission of enhancing lives through the arts.
Marilyn Delk is the former executive director of the Darke County Center for the Arts and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Viewpoints expressed in the article are the work of the author. The Daily Advocate does not endorse these viewpoints or the independent activities of the author.