The city's COVID-19 vaccine clinics at Centennial Hall are now Juneau's premier concert venue. On April 3, local strings group Dynamics followed Grammy-award-winning cellist, Zuill Bailey in a live concert at the clinic. Jayda Skeek, far left, musical coach and teacher Guohua Xia second to the left, students Jin Yue Trousil and Creys Hudson flank Bailey from left to right. (Courtesy Photo / Jim Pfitzer)

City’s vaccination clinics double as live music venue

Musicians enhance vaccine experience

Live music lovers, rejoice — and roll up your sleeves.

Volunteer musicians are performing live at the City and Borough of Juneau’s vaccine clinics.

Last weekend, Grammy Award-winning cellist Zuill Bailey performed all six Bach suites as people filed in for a second COVID-19 vaccine dose.

“This is an incredibly hopeful moment and chance to fuse the glorious sound of classical music,” Bailey said. “Music and the arts help people to celebrate life. This is the ultimate celebration.”

Bailey was in town as part of a swing through the state in his role as the artistic director for Juneau Jazz and Classics. He stopped by to play to spread “light and healing” and fill the gap of live music opportunities for audiences and musicians created by the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Bailey said he loves playing to audiences in Alaska.

“Culture and arts define the community here. Alaska is full of individuals. It’s very real. People are straight from the Earth and straight from the heart,” he said.

Bailey’s music greeted people arriving for vaccinations Saturday morning and filled Centennial Hall. His concert area was set up in the final waiting area so people in the last phase of their appointment could see him and hear his music.

“As a cellist, I get to face my audience,” Bailey said. “I can gauge my performance based on what I see. Music allows people to be present and in the moment.”

During Bailey’s performance, listeners tapped their feet along to the music and a few wept. When it was over, many clapped loudly and yelled words of gratitude.

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Musical performances continued

While Bailey may be the only Grammy-winner to play at the clinics this spring, local musicians are also entertaining audiences assembled for vaccines.

As Bailey wrapped up his concert Saturday, a student string quartet and a fiddle group followed.

According to Jim Pfitzer, the Juneau Arts and Culture Center employee who is organizing the musical performances, the reaction to the music has been very positive.

“People are really pleased to hear the music,” he said. “The sound quality in here is great.”

Pfitzer said the tradition of music started when he spontaneously started playing the piano at an early clinic.

“I was amazed at how many people stopped to say thank you,” he said.

Musicians enjoy the opportunity, too.

“Performing at the vaccine clinic these past three times has been such an honor and pleasure to us,” Elizabeth Djajalie, a member of the string group Dynamics, said in an email to the Empire.

“We’re very glad to be able to get out and serve our community again. Every bow stroke is a salutation to spring. Every note is a declaration of hope, and every vibration of the string is a good tone to go forward with. My friends and I have been ecstatic to play for Juneau again,” she said.

Musicians needed

Pfitzer is actively looking for musicians who are willing to play at upcoming clinics. If musicians are interested in performing, they can contact him at jim@jimpfitzer.com or 423-987-0003.

Contact reporter Dana Zigmund at dana.zigmund@juneauempire.com or 907-308-4891.

Grammy-award-winning cellist Zuill Bailey performed all six Bach suites as people filed in for a second COVID-19 vaccine dose at Centennial Hall on April 3. (Dana Zigmund / Juneau Empire)

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