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Balm for the soul from Daniel Hope@Home / San Francisco Classical Voice

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It didn't take violinist Daniel Hope long to pivot in the pandemic era. By the end of March, this "he's everywhere" artist had launched Hope@Home, a series of livestreamed salons featuring fellow performers of all sorts, from pianist-composer Christoph Israel to singers, actor Sebastian Koch (Homeland), and even a pair of post horn players.

The "@Home" designation was literal at first, with Hope and his socially distanced guests making music at his own bespoke Belle Époque apartment in Berlin, smartly fitted out for high sound and video quality. Hope subsequently took his chamber-scale gatherings on tour, to locations including a Bavarian mountaintop. A number of the episodes are available on YouTube and on ARTE TV's website.

Bay Area audiences may take particular hometown pride in the enterprise. Hope was appointed music director of San Francisco's New Century Chamber Orchestra in 2018. It's one of several artistic leadership positions he's occupied.

As this series' genial and generous host, Hope occasionally chats with his virtual audience, in soothing but purposeful tones. Freelance musicians have been hit especially hard during the Covid crisis, as he says. Hope adds that anything listeners can contribute to support musicians - or anyone else impacted by the pandemic - would be a much-needed blessing. The same could be said of the aptly named Hope@ Home itself, a welcome source of comfort for musicians and isolated audiences alike.

A new digital-only Deutsche Grammophon audio release captures the intimate, confiding character of the project. It's no faint praise to say this collection of 21 selections is easy listening. Hope and his collaborators dare to be direct and open-hearted in a playlist that includes such über-standards as "Over the Rainbow," "Summertime," "Moon River," and "America the Beautiful."

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