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With the Netherlands, like most of Europe, under lockdown during the coronavirus pandemic, Ellister van der Molen’s most recent live show was an unusual setup.

In the shared garden of an apartment complex in Amsterdam, she stood exactly one-and-a-half metres from her organist, Bob Wijnen. Their audience, high above their heads, huddled together on their balconies.

Social media has been jam-packed with footage of musicians performing for – or with – their neighbours since the COVID-19 pandemic saw bars, restaurants and venues across Europe and the world shuttered and social distancing measures enforced.

But van der Molen’s concert in IJburg was a little different: as part of an initiative launched by Upperbloom, a Dutch startup, she is being paid out of the company’s marketing budget. The duo had paid a total of 12 balcony shows since confinement began, most sponsored by local firms.

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