Music when the world stood still

On the 23rd of March 2020, lockdown hit the UK and the country came to a standstill. After watching the rest of the world slowly close their borders and go into lockdown, it was no surprise when the UK followed suite. Suddenly, everyday activities that we had previously taken for granted became distant memories and mundane activities such as doing the weekly shop became a fight for survival.

For many of us, life ground to a halt as schools, universities and workplaces closed and we were forced to become creative in finding comforts and amusements in our own homes. Travelling was only possible through dusting off the books from the back of bookshelves or by experimenting in the kitchen with exotic spices and recipes.

Whilst lockdown has held an equal amount of challenges, it has also shifted the focus to slowing down, connecting to the present and being mindful of everyday blessings. It has given people the opportunity to take time for themselves, whether that has been reigniting old hobbies or catching up on sleep and tv shows.

Music has remained a constant throughout the pandemic; for every distressing news headline about death and suffering there has been a heart-warming video of people singing from balconies, police offices in Spain serenading the locals or a local musician putting on a concert in a garden whilst the neighbours watch. Music has always been such a huge part of daily life, often gone undervalued, but coronavirus has re-emphasised the importance of the arts for our mental and physical health. (more)

The face of music is changing. Like most industries it has been devastated due to Covid with lots of important concert venues have become redundant. Rehearsals for orchestras and chamber ensembles have become extremely challenging without breaking social distancing regulations. Many musicians successfully took to online concerts, rehearsals, lessons and workshops to tackle the restrictions and ended up creating wonderful performances and projects. With new guidelines in place suggesting some venues may be able to open soon, it begs the question of whether the music industry will recover to be the same as before or whether it will lead us to think differently and more imaginatively about the music industry.

With that in mind, we would like to share a ‘Cherry Stone Top 10’. We have each chosen 5 pieces or albums which have had an impact on us for one reason or another during lockdown and would like to share them with you.



Will’s selection


Concerto in D major by Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco.
This is by far my favourite guitar concerto and it has been a dream of mine to have it mastered. So, at the start of lockdown staring into an unknown amount of time ahead of me I decided it was time to take on the challenge. This concerto at times was a lifeline for me and was a wonderful companion throughout lockdown.

Life is Beautiful by Keb Mo.
I discovered Keb Mo last summer but found that during lockdown I started listening to him a lot more, he plays and sings the blues incredibly but unusually sheds a positive light on the genre, perhaps this is the reason why I enjoy his playing so much? As Don Mclean famously sang

“I met a girl who sang the blues, and I asked her for some happy news  But she just smiled and turned away”

Traffic in the sky by Jack Johnson.
I can’t write a list of songs/pieces without crediting Jack Johnson who since the age of about 7 has been my all-time favourite artist. In the lyrics of this song Jack Johnson sings about how we are harming our planet and environment, something which also resonates very deeply with me. It just reminds me of how the sky and roads were completely empty and people started noticing the sounds of birds for the first time…

The Frog Galliard by John Dowland.
During lockdown Mark Ashford, our head of guitar at the Conservatoire, set us the challenge of learning and performing a new piece of music by a different composer each week – quite a challenge but a great experience. It wasn’t until we were given Dowland as our composer of the week that I realised that I had never learnt any of his pieces. I decided to go for a complete classic which I had loved since a young age. Playing this piece reignited a love for the compositional brilliance of the famous Lutenist, so much so that I am planning on starting my fourth-year recital with a small selection of Dowland pieces.

Under The Sun by Curry & Krawall.
I spent a lot of time during lockdown listening to house and dance tunes mainly because my sister, brother and I absolutely love them! It also came in handy to have lots of dance tunes during the workouts and exercises I was forced to participate in; these intense workouts I powered though with my fitness mad brother and sister were soon to be titled ‘the pain train.’ Anyway, this tune is absolutely buzzing.



Emily’s selection


Piano concerto No.2 by Rachmaninoff.
I have always had a strong connection to this piece, it’s not necessarily something that has connected with me during lockdown but a piece I find myself reaching for regularly. No matter how many times I listen to it, I get Goosebumps every time.

Annie’s song by John Denver.
I had the unfortunate experience of losing my Granny during lockdown. This song was played at her funeral and will forever hold a special place in my heart. You will always be loved and missed.

Folklore by Taylor Swift.
An album to remind you that stories are what give music life. It is the reason we all experience music so differently; we relate them to our life experiences which are undoubtedly unique. The album was written and recorded during lockdown along with a music video, proving that even in the most unforgiving circumstances remarkable things can be accomplished.

Ravel introduction and allegro.

Lockdown has given me time to explore the depths of music written for harp, allowing me to create a list of pieces I aim to learn some day. Ravel’s Introduction and Allegro is an incredible piece of music for harp, string quartet and wind which I have aspired to play for many years … maybe this might be the year I finally learn it?

Rainbow Dreaming by Gina Taylor.
A good friend of mine Gina Taylor has just graduated from the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire after studying harp for 4 years. ‘Rainbow Dreaming’ is an album which she wrote in her final year and was released during lockdown. It represents her personality perfectly; quirky, full of life and with a unique sense of style. Whilst I selfishly wish she were staying with us for another year, I can’t wait to see her break more boundaries and create more amazing music.

We hope you all stay safe and well and keep exploring amazing music.




The Cherry Stone Duo