Guest blog post: Kate Addis on the impact of Covid-19 on a professional musician

Kate Addis is a professional double bassist who has been engaged many times by APO to boost our section. She’s been helping APO scope its crowdfunder project to present a professional end-of-lockdown celebration concert, which will see the musicians paid now, to alleviate financial hardship.

At the start of 2020, like many other professional musicians, I looked forward to a few quiet days in January; the normal lull after the busy Christmas period. My diary was filled with ‘gigs’ over the six months and as I filled in the obligatory tax return, the coming financial year looked as if it would be a healthy one. 

My name is Kate Addis and I am a freelance classical bass player living in Berkshire.  I grew up in Reading and when I finished my training in London, I never really saw any reason not to move back to the area.  I had family and friends here and with the good transport links, I could be in central London faster than some of my friends who live in greater London.

In March, when the lockdown was announced, like many others I had little understanding of the bigger impact this would have on my life.  I was half way through a busy opera tour in Wales when the remaining performances were cancelled.  By the end of March, all the gigs in my diary for the next five months vanished.

As any self-employed person will tell you, it can be a precarious life.  You learn to balance the times of the year when you are busy with the times that you have little else on.  Most freelance musicians take on work from a number of sources.  For me this includes performing with orchestras and ensembles around the country as well as having a few hours a week of teaching.  For other musicians who work for touring productions, holding down a teaching position is not viable and they have lost all of their income.

Over the years many people have asked me why choose a career that has so much uncertainty (even pre corona) but it’s obvious to me.  There simply is no job like it. 

I get to work with talented people and have performed in concert halls, theatres, cathedrals, stately homes, film sets, studios, stadiums, cruise ships and even circus tents. No one can say my ‘office’ is dull.

One of the many concerts in which Kate Addis has been engaged to play with APO, to boost our bass section. She’s the fourth bass in.

I’ve had the opportunity to work with children; to be their first ever live music experience, to see their faces when they see and hear a double bass and be a witness to the first words sung by a refugee child who hasn’t spoken since fleeing her country two years earlier.  But most of all, I get to play music that communicates to everyone; it’s like speaking a universal language.

As the lockdown has continued, like everyone else, musicians are wondering how our work lives will ever get back to normal.  Many of us have had to turn to universal credit while we wait for the self-employed universal grant in June.  Others have taken on temporary jobs. 

As the weeks have gone by, it has become increasingly obvious to us that our industry will be one of the last to leave lockdown.  With this in mind, Andrew’s idea of a crowdfunded concert to support musicians in the area is a very welcome one.  I cannot wait to return to work and perform with other musicians who live locally. I do hope you will be able to support this venture and I look forward to meeting you at the concert.