These past 15 months, no matter how “hard” or “easy” any of us had it, we’ve learned a lot. Good stuff even. Our learning, you could say, has been one of the pandemic’s silver linings. To acknowledge some of those Silver Learnings, we’ve invited friends from different walks of life to share what they’ve learned from the pandemic. Our guess is you’ll hear some voices that sound like your own, and some that offer a window into a world you’ve not known but from which we can all now learn.
From harmony in voice to harmony for humanity, The Levins strive to uplift and unite with feel-good and infectious music. Their songs have nabbed Top 10 positions on Folk and Roots DJ charts and yearly Top 10 song/album lists and their music is known to bridge genres and communities, offering The Levins unique opportunities to tour and perform. Highlights include Amsterdam Jewish Music Festival, The Parliament of World Religions in Toronto and co-producing an original full-scale musical theater/Euro-Circus production in San Francisco, based on their album, “My Friend Hafiz.”
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As a married couple who left their comfort zone ten years ago to pursue music full-time together, forging ahead was the bottom line. As full-time musicians, we have always had to creatively think outside of the box, be flexible and open to change.
So, last March, on the day our world started imploding as gigs started cancelling, we recognized that we could be panicking but were surprised at the calm that was persevering inside. As our 2015 album title constantly reminds us, “TRUST.”
The last call of the day was from an upcoming house concert that wasn’t cancelling, but suggesting we try to stream online. It was a foreign concept after a year of being on the road nationally, in support of our 2019 CD, but we would soon learn it was our way forward.
Our aim and objective has always been to bridge communities with our music, to uplift the spirit of our common humanity and, within the diverse spaces we enter, generate a loving openness that allows for personal healing and connection. Ironically, we had been hustling and driving ourselves forward at an exhausting pace and struggling to find time to do this for ourselves. Our program, “Checking Inward,” that fostered notions of “self care,” kept being put on hold for years. Being forced off the trajectory we had been striving towards actually offered time not only to start the series, but allowed us to apply it to ourselves.
In moments of doubt, we would be spontaneously asked to create new programs for our local library or receive phone calls, as we did from The Jonah Maccabee Foundation, inviting us to be a part of their online series that supported musicians. These simple acts of compassion allowed us to lean into an even greater faith.
We now know that streaming will be folded into our reality herein. Opportunities that were too far away or hindered by weather, can now be held online. Streaming has its own level of technological and interactive stress that continues to challenge us from time to time, but the trade off goes beyond more down time and fewer tolls. It has opened the door to a global audience, sustained us, and has given us a chance to breathe with a renewed perspective.
For both of us, it affirms that regardless of our intentions, momentum, goals, wishes, expectations … we must stay open and be willing to change. Moving through the pain and fear of the unknown has helped us to recognize unfolding beauty as it presents itself.
Recently, we performed outdoors at a Bethel Woods Memorial Day event. Our yearlong practice of generating a sincere connection with an online audience transferred to our first live audience. We were able to reach out and connect with new listeners in a more meaningful way.
We do hope that this time has afforded all of us, individually and collectively, the chance to pull back and assess what is most vital in our lives. As things start to accelerate again, we will be reminding each other that we have the choice of slowing down to consider our options. We can move forward together in a way that opens us up, beyond our bottom lines, to a greater wholeness within and without.
(Ira Levin & Julia Bordenaro Levin)
Harmony-driven Acoustic Duo