On the second day of this month, Stein walked into Terminal 1 at the Stuttgart Airport, normally one of the busiest in southern Germany.

He had been there hundreds of times before, having once worked at the airport. Except this afternoon was different.

The hangar-like building for once wasn't teeming with passengers struggling to check-weighty bags onto flights, or rushing to get through security. in fact, the terminal was eerily empty, except for two chairs.

One of the chairs was for Mr. Stein. In the other sat Stephanie Winker, a flute player, waiting to give Mr. Stein his first experience of live music since Germany went into lockdown in March.

Mr. Stein said in a telephone interview that he had known the concert was going to be strange event. It was, after all, a one-on-one, 10-minute performance; he was not allowed to speak to the musician, or even applaud at the end.

On that day, there were 12 one-on-one concerts at the airport, with most audience members having won their place in a Facebook contest.

Similar events have been taking place in Stuttgart through out May, at sites from gardens to museums, organized by Ms. Winker and three local orchestras. Concertgoers can book online to take part.

What Mr. Stein hadn't expected, he said, was how moving the experience would be. After he sat down opposite Ms. Winker - more than six feet away to maintain social distancing - the pair gazed into each other's eyes as the musicians decided which piece to play.

''It was such an intimate moment,'' Mr. Stein, 29, said. ''It was like she was reading my mind.''

Ms. Winker then lifted her instrument and began the ''Allemande'' from Bach's Partita in A Minor for solo flute. It immediately ''hit me right in the heart,'' Mr. Stein said.

That was just not the thrill of hearing live music again, he said. He had just heard the same melody in his car on the way to the airport - albeit as a sample in a novelty pop song.

''It was like,  'Are you kidding me?' ''. Mr. Stein said. ''She had read my mind!''

Ms. Winker said in a telephone interview that she came up with the idea for one-to-one shows last year while thinking of new ways to put on concerts at a chamber music festival.

She had been inspired by Marina Abramovic, the performance artist, whose 2010 work ''The Artist Is Present,'' at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, involved the artist staring into the eyes of anyone who sat opposite  her.

Ms. Winker said she immediately wanted to revive the concert series when lockdown began.

''When corona came, and there were all these rules where the only thing you can do is to be two meters apart from everyone, I just thought, 'WOW'.

One-on-one concerts would be the only form of performance that could work in this moment,'' she said.   

'A terminal, instrumentalist and thou'.

The World Students Society thanks author, Alex Marshall.


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