When it comes to public entertainment, hearing a live concert would have probably seemed impossible this time last year thanks to the pandemic. Sometimes, the sounds of voices echoing through a concert hall bring audiences together, whether the performance is in person or online. This semester, students and faculty members from the Longwood University Music Department have provided the concert experience via livestreaming and in person.
Noah Carter, a Longwood Music alumni, described his experience managing livestream performances: “It’s very interesting not having a crowd to play for, and I guess it was really nice to be able to be involved and sort of help the department get through COVID especially with the restrictions that have been put on.”
Last year, the Music department began learning new ways to adapt their performances to coincide with COVID guidelines. From adapting to livestream technology and playing with masks on, different faculty members and students pulled together to give a variety of performances for the campus community to see.
Carter contributed to some of the performances held in Molnar Recital Hall by setting up microphones and other livestream equipment.
He also discussed how the Jazz Ensemble Concert, held on October 14, was a unique performance since the air conditioning system in Jarman stopped working, and they only had a week’s notice that it would be held in Molnar, calling it a “very intimate, very personal concert”.
There were some struggles with the technology at times, according to the department chair, Professor Lisa Kinzer. Due to a couple staff members being let go by the university, the department resorted to hiring people to come in for some of the events; it has fallen on faculty to bear some of the responsibility as well.
“It is a massive workload that people have taken on in addition to their teaching responsibilities because we want it done right,” said Kinzer.
She credited Professor Roland Karnatz as being one of the main people who took on the job of figuring out the audio and visual technology. Kinzer acknowledged how other universities had used technology for virtual concerts before, but this was new for the Music department at Longwood, explaining how learning to use the technology was not something so simple as clicking a button.
While the virtual concerts started last year during the pandemic, the use of technology has carried over into this year, offering many benefits for students and their families.
Dr. Lauretta Werner, assistant professor of strings, stated, “First, we’re able to engage with the students’ families, their parents, their grandparents, their other family members can watch their students enrolled here perform, so it's great for us to connect with more families.”
“When you perform for a live audience, there’s a different kind of energy than when you’re simply recording or playing for people online.” Werner said, “You feel that you can engage with the audience much more; you feel their energy and spirit and excitement.”
Carter commented, “A lot of my friends are having senior recitals this semester. I’m really looking forward to those because I get to work those, and they get to take videos home to their parents and show people for years and years to come.”
“That’s something I take really seriously, so that’s something I’m looking forward to is making sure they have the best possible thing to cherish forever,” he continued.
Werner elaborated on how the livestreams helped with recruitment for the department, remarking that incoming freshmen will be able to watch performances posted online and gain enthusiasm for the program, as well as keeping the department relevant amid the pandemic.
“Myself and Dr. Secoy, who is the Music Education Professor, we’ve done two educational concerts, livestream concerts, that are only about 15 minutes long in which we collaborated.” Werner said, “We included the string orchestra, ukulele students and guitar students.”
She also discussed how these brief concerts focus on educating and engaging with young people and families in the community about the instruments. One of these concerts was held recently on October 28.
The music department still has a great respect for any opportunity to have a live performance when possible. Department recitals are held Thursday afternoons approximately twice a month for music students to practice their performance skills in front of an informal audience.
Kinzer stated, “There’s a palpable excitement when you’re playing live in front of a live audience.”
“Performing live performances this semester has been really special. I think that by now entering live performances we’re feeling much more grateful for what we do,” Werner added.
Despite being halfway through the semester, there are still plenty of performances to look forward to in the near future. On Nov 6, Brian Searcy, a tenor saxophone player will perform his Senior Recital in Molnar.
On Friday December 3, the department will host its Holiday Dinner that features most of the department’s ensembles where people from campus community, Farmville community, parents and alumni gather to celebrate.
All of the livestream performances are posted on a YouTube channel called Elwood’s Recital in addition to other social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram. The recordings stay up for about a month.
For more information about upcoming events hosted by the Music department, visit http://www.longwood.edu/media/music/public-site/Fall-2021-Music-Department-Calendar-of-Events.pdf.