The Isolation Diaries: Cellist Marina Hasselberg

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      With theatres, galleries, stores, and restaurants shuttered to flatten the COVID-19 curve, the Isolation Diaries reach out to Vancouver’s creative sector to find out what they’re watching, how they’re coping, and where they’re finding inspiration.

      The artist

      Portuguese-born cellist Marina Hasselberg has become a standout presence on Vancouver’s music scene, featuring in everything from baroque concerts to cutting-edge contemporary premieres. She has brought the rich sound of strings to a roster that includes Vancouver New Music, Early Music Vancouver, Sound of Dragon Ensemble, Turning Point Ensemble, Redshift Music Society, the Okanagan and Kamloops symphonies, and rock names like Father John Misty and Rod Stewart. Amid social distancing, she's performed a segment of the Little Chamber Series That Could's Isolation Commissions and she's preparing for her first solo live-stream performance this Sunday afternoon (see links below).

      No. 1 thing that’s getting you through

      “My big window connecting me with the outside world and the sense of freedom and opportunity for change that this pandemic is bringing—a treasure within the chaos that I hope we can at least all take advantage of.”

      Comfort food

      “Apple pie with vanilla ice cream and condensed milk, Mexican-style hot chocolate, melting stroopwafels, and peanut-butter chocolate… I am telling myself all is fair for now! I’ve also been obsessed with the idea of salted caramel, which I don’t have in the house, but as I learned today it takes only 15 minutes to make, so that will be my next little culinary project.”

      Quarantine soundtrack

      “My friend Giorgio Magnanensi’s daily enchanting piano-music miniatures on Instagram have been a wonderful and inspiring soundtrack of the past few weeks. I also literally just heard Portuguese fadista Mariza sing in a video, and at this time of confusion and reflection on the role of live music, this performance arrived as a punch, with its striking beauty and intense rapport between audience and musicians. It might take one or perhaps even two years until we can do it, but I am 100-percent looking forward to both performing and attending concerts again.”

      Creative or learning outlet

      Sto imparando l’italiano! I am back at learning Italian, which is always a hilarious adventure.

      “My relation with my cello and my creative drive have been pretty impacted by the pandemic. For the first three weeks of isolation I did not play a single note. When I finally did, it was to work on a project I think highly of (the Little Chamber Music Series That Could’s Isolation Commissions), and once I started, the musical connection was immediate—as if a little light bulb suddenly went on and I (in a quite emotional way) realized how much I had been missing making music. I’ve been since feeling more and more drawn to creating music again on a regular basis and will have my first solo live-stream performance very soon. See it live-stream Sunday [April 19] at 3 p.m. on the Vancouver Improvised Arts Society Facebook page.)

      “I have also been writing a lot, and that’s for me a great way to cope, to check in with myself, and to explore my thoughts and feelings.”

      Survival tip

      “For myself? Stop eating!

      “Taking social distancing very seriously for the good of all, be kind with myself and others, allow for space to feel and be, reflect, stay connected with friends and family, maintain or create healthy routines, go out (safely) in the sun and fresh air, and enjoy some nice chocolate, a good book, and great music."