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Italians are singing on their balconies to create community in the age of coronavirus

AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino
A woman applauds as she stands on her balcony adorned with the Italian flag, at the Garbatella neighborhood, in Rome, Saturday, March 14, 2020. The nationwide lockdown to slow coronavirus is still early days for much of Italy, but Italians are already showing signs of solidarity with flash mob calls circulating on social media for people to ”gather” on their balconies at certain hours, either to play music or to give each other a round of applause. For most people, the new coronavirus causes only mild or moderate symptoms. For some, it can cause more severe illness, especially in older adults and people with existing health problems. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)
  • Sarah Todd
By Sarah Todd

Senior reporter, Quartz and Quartz at Work

Published Last updated This article is more than 2 years old.

Of course we could rely on Italians to create beauty and joy even in the trying times of a global pandemic.

Italy is on complete lockdown, with 17,660 cases of the coronavirus as of Friday, March 13, according to the World Health Organization. But people in the country have started coming out on their balconies and leaning out their windows to join together in song, coordinating the effort by spreading the word via social media.

On Friday, Italians sang the national anthem together at 6pm; on Saturday, they joined together to applaud health-care workers. The New York Times reports: “At 6 p.m. on Saturday, Italians will sing “Azzurro,” a 1968 hit by the singer Adriano Celentano, and on Sunday, “Ma il cielo è sempre più blu,” by Nino Gaetano, which topped the charts in 1975.”

Watching videos of Italians create a semblance of community, even while in isolation, is pure delight.

Here they are playing the national anthem together:

Outside of Italy, people are finding other ways to use music to provide solace to one another in these fraught times.

Cellist Yo-Yo Ma took to Twitter on March 13 to serenade online listeners with a piece by Czech composer Antonín Dvořák, saying that he is beginning a series called #SongsOfComfort.

Meanwhile, Broadway actress and singer Laura Benanti invited students whose musicals have been canceled in the wake of the coronavirus to share their performances with her online.

The videos are welcome reminders that we can find creative ways to feel connected with one another, even while the virus outbreaks demand that we remain apart.

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