Written By: Carlos Daniel Martinez
The BC Music Conservatory is keeping the music playing by streaming online concerts in November and December through the Brooklyn College website.
These events will be pre-recorded instead of being live streamed from the Leonard and Claire Tow Center on campus as they usually are. The musicians will be taping and uploading their performances, whether in group or solo recital, to be combined and mixed together to build a full concert experience.
The idea formed out of the need to make up for a lack of practice space, as well as needing avoid large groups.
“Given the nebulous circumstances surrounding the continuing COVID-19 pandemic, the administration is not ready to commit to allowing these events to be scheduled in the Tow Center. As we may have to hold these performances remotely instead,” said Concert Office Coordinator Bim Strasberg.
Even large group rehearsals are out of the question as they pose a risk of spreading infection.
“We were supposed to go in, but then someone said no to rehearsals, and basically they said we’re not going to be able to do a concert live-stream without any rehearsals,” said Allan Randall, a percussionist and Master’s student in Music Performance taking part in the virtual online concerts. “So they said it’s fine to send in a recording like how we’ve been doing all semester. Same thing goes for a lot of the ensembles that we’re doing,” Randall told the Vanguard.
Instead of simply cancelling all events, the department has found ways to keep them going on schedule, with or without an audience.
“Our percussion ensemble, we’re only having about three pieces recorded. Everything’s just recording right now,” said Randall.
While the Tow Center may not be hosting live performances, its doors are still open for students who wish to practice their solo recitals in the smaller, individual rooms provided, as well as students who do need to come to the building for class and attendance purposes.
Strasberg added on to this by speaking about the health and safety protocols inside the building.
“Under such circumstances, all participants are subjected to an involved process or daily health checks in order to gain clearance from the Public Safety and Human Resource offices,” said Strasberg. “In addition to mandating proper mask use, extremely limited access, and social distancing—by providing signage in the building to insure one way traffic throughout—the college has also built Plexiglas screens for our large rehearsal and performance spaces to provide each individual.”
Despite the department’s dedication to safer studying for their students, Randall, like many students, is critical, and says that there needs to be more to be done to help the musicians.
“When everybody got locked down last semester and we were trying to figure out what to do, everybody had different equipment. We weren’t ready to have this type of thing. We’re still not ready,” Randall shared. “It’s not the same as going into a concert and working on it together and hearing dynamics, you know, hearing the volume of each instrument. Hearing what works and doesn’t work.”
To deal with instruments and sound would require specifically-designed rooms and equipment able to capture the perfect notes and chords when participating in a student music ensemble.
“We don’t have enough room. We don’t have enough room in our houses to place our instruments,” Randall added. “Brooklyn College is big. Some of these instruments are about ten-feet long. Other than that, going inside school is definitely a big step in the right direction for us.”
Strasberg addressed these difficulties and efforts to assist with students while holding the concert events.
“We have to do what we can—by any and all means—to allow the musicians to produce their performances as they are able and comfortable doing so—such are the challenges of running a performance program in these unusual conditions.”