Live performances all over the world have been canceled for the last year, but harpist Sarah Christ is finding creative new ways to share her music. Her latest project, titled EMPTY SPACES, fills deserted venues around Dresden, Germany with solo harp music. Performance spaces have included museums, gyms, and restaurants. Christ averages two performances per week, schedules each performance only a few days in advance, and releases a video of each one on her YouTube channel. We caught up with her to learn more about the project and her upcoming performances.
How did you come up with the idea for this project?
At the beginning of January, my husband and I chatted about something that could be done during these unusual times. Playing alone in an empty space can’t spread the virus. To share these musical moments, my husband took over the job of creating beautiful artistic films. Our first location was the German Hygiene Museum in Dresden. They were so supportive and sent out a press notification for the event. That led to a number of interviews in newspapers in Dresden as well as a report on the local TV station. Every location I asked to perform in was so open and welcoming. It was wonderful.
How often do you perform in these spaces?
I perform on average two times per week. We only film once in each venue.
Tell us about some of the venues you’ve performed in.
I began the series in the Hygiene Museum, followed by Fitness First gym. My next performances were in an exclusive small restaurant, an indoor swimming pool, and the Dresden Zoo in the elephant enclosure while the elephants were outside! The next empty space was the dance center Festspielhaus Hellerau after which I played in a high school around the corner. After that, I chose the big city library and cinema. My most recent performance was in a beautiful castle used as a hotel and restaurant.
When is your next performance?
I only arrange my performances a couple of days in advance, normally in two locations every week. This week will be only one location. I tend not to mention where I will play next because I like the idea that people will be surprised about where I will perform next.
What kind of repertoire do you perform?
I try to carefully choose repertoire to match the spaces. In the gym, I played “Despacito,” a pop song I dance to in Zumba. At the pool, I played La Source by Hasselmans. My harp was positioned in the Afrika house at the zoo, so I played film music from Out of Africa. I thought a Scarlatti sonata would be appropriate for the elegant castle. I also try to dress for the occasion. I wore a ball gown in the castle whereas in the gym I wore sport clothes and street clothes in the cinema. Last but not least, my husband also films quite differently to set the right mood and vary the style in each venue.
Anything else you’d like us to know about this project?
I have a great desire to share my harp music and I try to find ways to do so at the moment. I want to send out a feeling of hope for better times to come. These videos document Dresden in a very unusual situation. These spaces which were commonly known are now seen in a very different light. The connection between the music, how the music fills the space with life for a few moments, and the emotions it evokes in people when seeing these spaces can be quite intense and special.