Coping with Corona: Our Favorite Books, Movies, and More

March 17, 2020 Encore Tours

Across the globe, businesses are shutting their doors, schools are closing, and people are being encouraged to stay home and practice social distancing. This is an unprecedented time, and we all need a distraction. For that reason, the team here at Encore Tours wanted to provide some of our favorite books, TV shows, movies, and websites to help stay entertained during this difficult period. 

Ward Dilmore - Development Director for Ensemble Leaders

The Red Violin is the story of an instrument whose magic allows it to find its way into the lives of characters both divine and maligned. Greed, passion, lust, all become a part of the music that this memorable movie performs so masterfully.

Tous Les Matins du Monde (All the Mornings of the World) is an epic work of art that paints a lush picture of loss, seclusion, retreat. Jean-Pierre Marielle plays Sainte Colombe, a widowed viola da gamba master, and father of two daughters. It’s a collision of the mystical and the profane with Gerard Depardieu and his son, Guillaume, playing the part of Marin Marais both young and old, seeking a mentor. The wreck when arrogance smashes into a quiet place and the everlasting ruin of a broken heart will linger in your memory for a long time.

Immortal Beloved is a mystery of the first order starring Gary Oldman as Beethoven. After his death, Beethoven’s friend searches for an “immortal beloved” mentioned in Beethoven’s letters, passionate yearnings that became more desperate as he grew from a romantic young musician to a beleaguered genius incapable of any relationship that didn’t include rage. You’ll never forget the last scene and you’ll immediately want to re-watch as the tragic mystery is solved.

Sabrina Nikolov - Regional Director, East

Nancy Reich wrote a wonderful biography about Clara Schumann entitled Clara Schumann: The Artist and the Woman.  It’s a deep-dive into her incredible life.  Nancy Reich spent a lifetime translating, researching, and studying Clara Schumann, so the depth of detail in this book is fantastic, really highlighting how Clara Schumann can be considered music’s unhailed Renaissance woman.

Nancy’s daughter, Susanna Reich, wrote a young adult’s biography about Clara Schumann called Clara Schumann: Piano Virtuoso, which is a quick read, yet really well written as well.  I will definitely encourage my daughter to read it when she gets older (and is hopefully playing the piano)!

James Smith - Regional Director, West

There are almost too many suggestions to list, but I'd recommend Mr. Holland’s Opus, Un peu, beaucoup, aveuglément (Blind Date), Shine, Doctor Zhivago (the decades-old classic for anyone locked up in the house), Brassed Off (a Yorkshire classic), The Commitments (a funny Irish musical), and The Full Monty ("Get your kit off!").

If you're looking for a good book, I'd recommend The Power of One, The Human Journey, Mao, and too many more to mention…

Frieda Krantz - Director of Operations

One of my favorite music-related books is Nick Hornby's High Fidelity. This hilarious, pseudo-coming-of-age-story, shows the side of admiring the glamour of the music industry through one of the lowliest (and most approachable) levels in the music business - that of a record store owner.

I've also been really been impressed with the number of artists that have provided concerts and music performances via streaming services. The Guardian released an article this week titled "Quarantined Soirees" which put together streaming options that classical venues around the world opening up their digital archives so that everyone can access their music.

Jon Linker - Program Consultant

The local choir I sing with – or was until our season got canceled – uses cyberbass.com. There are practice tracks there for many major choral works. You can sing along with a balanced choir, with just the accompaniment, or isolate your part. It's a great way to keep singing and practicing while group rehearsals are canceled.

Maggie Rodriguez - Program Manager

For singers and other performers, I would recommend reading An Actors Work by Konstantin Stanislavski to help acting with the truth. Also, this a great time to brush up on music theory, IPA (not the beer the International Phonetic Alphabet) and your languages.

Glendon Farquhar - Program Manager

In terms of literature, my personal favorite is One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. The novel will take readers into the life of a town and family, from its start to its end, under a cloak of Magic Realism. Tolstoy's Death of Ivan Ilyich can be knocked out in one bathtub sitting and is the only book to actually make me cry! 

Since everyone is going to be hunkered down for a while, now is also the perfect time to start a series! You could read all of Agatha Christie's "Hercule Poirot & Miss Marple" books as well as Patrick O'Brian's "Aubrey–Maturin" series before this lockdown ends!

My fiancé, Shannon, also says Anna Beer's Sounds and Sweet Airs is a fantastic read about women in classical music.

James Matthews - Director

Regardless of whether you prefer fiction or non-fiction, there are three excellent books that my wife and I would recommend:

  • Music and Silence by Rose Tremain: A fictional story about a musician in the Danish court
  • Crying to Heaven by Anne Rice: A fictionalized account of a Castrato from Venice
  • Beethoven: The Man Revealed by John Suchet: A fabulous biography that goes beyond the composer's musical accomplishments to reveal a complicated man

David Solar - Director of Marketing

While my well-cultured colleagues have a diverse catalog of literary recommendations, most of my days end with the New York Times crossword puzzle before drifting off as one of my favorite movies faintly plays in the background. More times than I'd care to admit, that movie is Almost Famous -- a funny and often touching story about a 15-year old named William who cons his way into writing a profile for Rolling Stone on an up-and-coming rock band, Stillwater. Based on the life of director Cameron Crowe, the film is light and entertaining, but it's also filled with heartwarmingly memorable moments -- particularly from scene-stealing supporting actors like Frances McDormand and Philip Seymour Hoffman.

Almost Famous is a great way to spend two hours but, if you're looking for something a bit more substantial, I would strongly recommend Fleabag. It's a quick binge (the entire show consists of just 12 episodes), but it's well-written, darkly comedic, and wildly original.

For many parents, the recent coronavirus outbreak and has led to school closures and remote work. That type of work-life balance can be very difficult, and it almost guarantees the one thing most parents try to avoid: more screen time for their kids. It can be tough to keep your children entertained when you're busy with work, but I have found that two programs work exceptionally well for my 16-month old twins; Sesame Street and Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood. The upside is that I'm able to get some work done in (relative) peace. The downside is that I've had the same two children's songs stuck in my head for the last 48 hours. Oh well, c'est la vie.


About the Author

Encore Tours

Encore Tours goes beyond travel. We are committed to supporting music education at home. From our director workshops and professional networking events to our scholarship programs for young musicians, we continue to give back to our musical communities year-round. That's why "taking your music program to new places" is our mission. Whether "places" refers to exciting destinations or supporting your music programs at home, Encore is with you every step of the way.

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