We had the good fortune of connecting with Andreea Mut and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Andreea, can you talk to us about the impact the Covid-19 Crisis has had on your business.
As a freelance classical pianist, the Covid-19 crisis impacted my life in a dramatic way. Not only have I lost income from several canceled recitals, concerts, and festivals, but I am currently stuck in Europe, banned from returning to my home in Houston, TX because of my non-permanent resident status. I have lived in the U. S. since 2011; at first on a student visa, during my Master’s and Doctorate degrees, and afterwards on a O1 visa, a non-resident visa for people who demonstrate extraordinary ability in their field. When the Covid-19 crisis reached a critical point in the U.S., in March 2020, I happened to be traveling in Germany. The sudden European travel ban put a halt to my travels, and, as a visa holder, I found myself ineligible to return to the U.S. Luckily I was able to fly to Dublin to stay my aunt for the time being, hoping that it will only be a few weeks until the travel ban will be lifted. However, that was not the case, and today, more than 3 months after the ban, I am still in Europe. I spent over 2 months with my aunt before I was able to get a flight to Romania, to stay with my parents. During this unprecedented time, several organizations and other musicians from my professional network found a way to share their music through virtual collaborations. Students had to submit recordings for their final exams, churches broadcasted their services online, and some artists even started streaming live performances from their homes. Following several requests for online collaboration, I purchased a digital piano. This enabled me to record piano tracks for my church’s online service, and for other organizations/musicians that needed piano accompaniment. Despite the significant income loss, and increased concern about my professional engagements in the future, I am fortunate to have had some financial support from several organizations I work/collaborate with: the University of Houston, St. Stephen’s United Methodist Church Houston, the Houston Chamber Choir, ROCO Houston, and the Houston Grand Opera. I was able to do some remote work for them (mostly recordings) and in a few instances I even got compensated for concerts that were canceled. It is a challenging time for arts organizations everywhere, and the U.S. makes no exception. The uncertainty around events happening in the next few months puts freelance artists such as musicians, visual artists, stage managers, dancers, photographers, designers, and producers in an extremely vulnerable situation. I am experiencing this turmoil firsthand, but I am not losing hope just yet. Seeing that people turned to music, books, poems, and movies, and found ways to connect even during quarantine gives me hope that the arts will survive, and we will be able to come out of this crisis stronger, and perhaps kinder.
Any great local spots you’d like to shoutout?
Definitely Montrose, the Museum District, Buffalo Bayou Park Cistern, Rice University, Menil Collection, Jones Hall – Houston Symphony, Houston Arboretum and the Bayou Bend Collection and Gardens, Rienzi Museum For places to eat, I’d recommend: El tiempo on Navigation, Jinya, Gyu-Kaku Japanese BBQ, Sorrento, Dolce Vita, Pico’s, Hungry’s, Aladdin, Fresco Cafe Italiano, Brasserie 19, Artisans, Weights and Measures, The Kitchen at the Dunlavy
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
Moores School of Music, St. Stephen’s United Methodist Church Houston, the Houston Chamber Choir, ROCO Houston, Houston Grand Opera