Concerts from the Library of Congress

A Series of Musical Responses to the COVID-19 Pandemic

In the mid-14th century Giovanni Boccaccio (1313-1375) wrote the Decameron, a collection of 100 stories shared between a group of 10 acquaintances who had removed themselves from society during the darkest period of a plague. This early artistic response to an outbreak provided context and a means of expression, and the parallels to the quarantine and social distancing phenomena we have been experiencing worldwide in these difficult past few months resonate with us.

Images used in the video: Cover image - “Giovanni Boccaccio, half-length portrait” (London: Charles Knight, 1833). Engraved by W. Hopwood after Cornelius Van Dalem. Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division. Additional images selected from “Drawings for the Illustrations of Boccaccio’s Decamerone” (published in Paris, with imprint: Londra, 1757). Gravelot, Hubert François. Lessing J. Rosenwald Collection, Library of Congress.

In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, we draw on Boccaccio’s example to offer some musical responses. We have asked 10 pairs of composers and performers to write and perform brief solo works to be premiered online over the course of 10 weekdays in June. We are pleased to announce the schedule below:

Monday, June 15, 2020, 8pm

Jeremy Jordan (piano) and Damien Sneed (composer)

Tuesday, June 16, 2020, 8pm

Andrew Nogal (oboe) of the Grossman Ensemble and Richard Drehoff, Jr. (composer)

Wednesday, June 17, 2020, 8pm

Kathryn Bates (cello) of the Del Sol String Quartet and Miya Masaoka (composer)

Thursday, June 18, 2020, 8pm

Jenny Lin (piano) and Cliff Eidelman (composer)

Friday, June 19, 2020, 8pm

Erin Lesser (flute) of the Wet Ink Ensemble and Erin Rogers (composer)

Monday, June 22, 2020, 8pm

Charlton Lee (viola) of the Del Sol String Quartet and Luciano Chessa (composer)

Tuesday, June 23, 2020, 8pm

Daniel Pesca (piano) of the Grossman Ensemble and Aaron Travers (composer)

Wednesday, June 24, 2020, 8pm

Mariel Roberts (cello) of the Wet Ink Ensemble and Ashkan Behzadi (composer)

Thursday, June 25, 2020, 8pm

Jannina Norpoth (violin) of PUBLIQuartet and Niloufar Nourbakhsh (composer)

Friday, June 26, 2020, 8pm

Nathalie Joachim (flute) and Allison Loggins-Hull (composer), both of Flutronix

How to watch

Starting at 8pm on the scheduled premiere date, each video will be available on the following platforms:

Missed the premiere? No problem—watch any time on each event page listed above or the Library’s YouTube channel.

Concerts from the Library of Congress would like to thank all of the composers and performers of the Boccaccio Project for their swift work, and also their performing ensembles for their support: the Del Sol String Quartet, Flutronix, Grossman Ensemble, PUBLIQuartet and the Wet Ink Ensemble.

For media inquiries, please contact Brett Zongker, [email protected].