On March 13, the Caramoor staff was told to stay home for a long 4 day weekend, and soon enough, the 4 days turned into 365 days. To mark this anniversary, we asked the staff about the big and small changes that have happened to them over the course of the past year, and let’s just say, there were some big ones! Read more to learn about the staff at Caramoor, and what March 2020 – March 2021 looked like for them.
Jennifer Pace, Director of Individual Gifts
Within the first few weeks of working from home, while the world we knew was shrinking and becoming less familiar, my husband and I learned that a dream of ours was coming true: I was expecting our first child. It has been a surreal and bittersweet journey, to say the least. Remarkably, it’s given us an abundance of gratitude for slowing down and enjoying the simple things in life. Our daughter was born in early November of 2020 and our love for her grows deeper every day. Post-COVID, I can’t wait for her to see a maskless world smile and, most of all, for our friends and family to experience holding her as close as we do each day.
Kathy Schuman, Artistic Director
Although I’ve always loved to bake, I’ve taken my skills to new heights during the pandemic. (And yes, I am eating a home-baked treat every day.) Unfortunately, I wasn’t the only one, and last spring there was a serious yeast shortage in NYC. I had to order an entire pound of yeast on e-bay! But it was worth it, as I finally learned how to make delicious chocolate babka. It takes two days with all the rising etc. But hey, I’m sitting here working from home, so anything is possible! Here’s my first batch (but not my last). Current pandemic baking soundtrack – Ella Fitzgerald: The Lost Berlin Tapes (Live).
Sean Jones, Marketing Coordinator
In April 2020, I entered into Caramoor as the new Marketing Coordinator. My daily life revolved within my tiny NYC apartment, with short reprieves at the park. At the end of my lease, I decided not to renew, with no idea of what my next steps would be. Since then, I have been rather nomadic, splitting my time between my parents and my partner, with weekly camping trips from the comfort of my car. I can’t say I fully have a “work from home” office, but the spontaneity of my current being is a nice change, albeit with its own difficulties. Despite the struggles of constantly moving, I have found time to put a stronger focus on my own music, and on my own mental health. While this year dissipated any plans I had made, I am optimistic and thrilled for what this year holds, both on and off the stage
Ellie Gisler Murphy, Senior Artistic Planning Manager
The year for us has been marked by the passage of time in our daughter’s life. Fiona’s first birthday was Saturday, March 14, 2020. On the Friday before, she was in daycare, and by Monday we were unable to send her back. Parenting a young child and programming and producing livestreamed concerts was certainly a challenge that I was unprepared for, but in spite of the struggle of balancing this stress, Fiona imbued the year with a sense of spontaneity and delight. We caught all her first words, and watched her first steps transition into runs, and now, approaching her second birthday, she is a quick, sharp talker and is confident and bright-eyed. She has thrived. In August, dealing with our own exhaustion and the prospect of my teacher husband returning to in-person school, we were rescued by my mother who moved out from New Mexico to be our childcare. With this enormous lift, I was able to fully dig back into work. Now, I enjoy the peace of the home office and the comfort of the relaxed dress code (strictly enforced!). We are thankful for our small village, and for my Caramoor colleagues who have been ever-flexible and supportive (and who delight in catching Fiona on Zoom calls). I am eager for that moment when I can watch my sweet girl run on the grounds of Caramoor on our summer concert days, but until then, we are healthy and happy and surrounded by love.
Karla Stewart, Human Resources Coordinator
Looking back on the last year, I am amazed at how quickly we were able to transition to work from home. I know that was from the effort of many individuals over the past several years and I am grateful to all who made it possible. Being able to have a job and be physically safe has been a luxury that we no longer take for granted. Being home has reoriented my sense of place. We now connect more to our families, our home, our neighbors, and our town. As a result, we’ve strengthened our network in the community and that will make us all more resilient for whatever else comes our way. While I am eager to get back to some kind of normal and share live music with everyone again, I hope we never lose the importance of where we call home. May your home always give you safety, peace and rest, and may this year bring you healing and joy.
Roslyn Wertheimer, Marketing Manager
Where I started during this pandemic is certainly not where I am now. In March of 2020, I was living with my parents, comfortable in my childhood home with my parents and the family dog. I would go to the grocery store to relieve my parents from going out into the world, and slowly reintroduced them into our new normal, and what it looked like when we wanted the simple necessities from the store. But at the 5-month mark of the pandemic, my boyfriend and I made the decision to move in together, and we now live in Port Chester! He teaches guitar and music theory classes virtually from one side of the apartment, and I have had the opportunity to work from home for Caramoor from the other side (my coworkers know that getting on a video call with me means that there is an 80% chance they will hear some nice guitar plucking in the background). We are both desperately looking forward to going back to see live music again, together with our friends. It’s what solely made up our social lives pre-pandemic, and we are hoping to have that back soon.
Alex Cutrone, Director of Ticketing & Guest Relations
What a year it’s been! A year ago, when we thought this would “last a few weeks”, I was living in a small apartment with my cat, and my fiancée was staying with me to get out of New York City. Since then, we‘ve each moved out of our apartments and into the house we bought together, adopted a second cat, and got married a week ago! We’ve been spending the year cooking some amazing food, planning two weddings (the small one we just had with our family and the larger one next year), and enjoying the thrills of homeownership. And I was even able to check off a big bucket list item of mine when I biked from our home in Yorktown down to Tarrytown and across the Tappan Zee Bridge (what amounts to about 22 miles). Between zoom game nights, outdoor barbecues, and a little bit of time at Caramoor this past summer, we’ve been able to see some friends and really enjoy that time together. With things starting to look up, we’re excited to get back out to concerts and see friends when it’s safe to do so!
Olivia Ottinger, Box Office Coordinator
When Covid started, all I could think about was my music and my family. What was going to happen to my gig contracts, dreams of a “normal” summer full of rehearsals in NYC and working weekend concerts at Caramoor, the anxiety when my parents call after they go out to the store. But after weeks of uncertainty, we had to change everything; I did all my recordings with a premade piano track alone in Caramoor’s Music Room, ordered grocery delivery for the parents-whether they liked it or not, started taking and teaching voice on Zoom (to the upset of many neighbors, I’m sure). But looking back, I am somehow grateful for the little things this year has brought me; renewed passion for all things *live*, a re-start of my yoga teacher training, a deeper love for indoor plants, and baking. This year has even brought me my first house; (my boyfriend and I are moving in this weekend!), where hopefully I’ll have enough space to sit somewhere other than my couch with my cat while I work, where I can move in a real piano, and have room to create and gather with loved ones once the world is safe again
Tahra Delfin, Chief Marketing Officer
What a year! 2020 has been a year that my family and I will never forget. I got married, bought and moved into a new home, my husband opened a business and I work from home while my children ages 8 & 12 do remote learning. I thought I was pretty good at time management, but this year I had to take it to an entirely new level. I miss being at Caramoor so much. While I would never take back this year, I look forward to the months ahead.
Laura Schiller, Publications Editor
Aside from the peaceful setting and friendly colleagues at the Caramoor office, one of the best parts of my pre-pandemic workday was the drive to work. With a full coffee Thermos in the cup-holder (and sometimes a hot breakfast wrap in the driver’s seat), I would drop off my kids at Concord Road Elementary and then enjoy a luxurious half-hour drive North on the Saw Mill from Dobbs Ferry to Katonah, blissfully alone, listening to music or the news channel of my choice, taking in the lush greenery in summer or the changing colorful array in Fall. If I saw traffic, it was in the opposite lanes. It had been only around one year since I’d gone back to work part-time after being a stay-at-home mom for many years, and the simultaneous structure and freedom of my daily routine–and the pride I felt belonging to a special organization–still felt new to me. Since March 2020, my kids have been fully remote, my gas tank has been filled twice, and our kitchen table has served double duty as my office and the school cafeteria. This means I’ve been doing triple duty as Publications Editor, lunch lady, and principal (minus the commute). But still grateful for my family’s well-being and this rewarding work.
Gayle Greves, Director of Special Events
Over the past year, I have adjusted to working from home quite proficiently, I believe. I have always preferred to be in the office than home alone, as I feed off of the inspiration and energy of my colleagues. The forced adjustment has made me learn new skills and helped trim out distractions I thought I needed to be productive. I am really enjoying the new portability of my workspace and the freedom it has provided. I can be productive even when I am away from my “desk.” The flexibility Caramoor granted us in working from home afforded me more time to help with the needs of my aging parents. I am grateful I was able to keep them in my ‘pod” this year, since I wasn’t working any live events, to provide some consolation and distraction from the real-world chaos. I was able to work from their dining room table a few days a week when I wasn’t at my own, hopefully providing them with some respite in their everyday care. I am grateful to my colleagues who bore some interruptions in my onscreen etiquette as my family took more attention from me. It was a challenging year and my father passed away this fall, but having the extra time with him because of our flexibility was special.
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