Music ensembles remain unwavering throughout COVID-19 pandemic

Tristan Ramey plays his instrument in a bag and wears a performance
mask. These kinds of masks and precautions have been used by the
School of Music to reduce the spread of COVID-19.
Wednesday, February 9, 2022. (Photo by: Maiya Banks)
Tristan Ramey plays his instrument in a bag and wears a performance mask. These kinds of masks and precautions have been used by the School of Music to reduce the spread of COVID-19. Wednesday, February 9, 2022. (Photo by: Maiya Banks)

COVID-19 has impacted all parts of campus life in ways seen and unseen. After March 2020, the musical performance groups on campus found themselves in an unfavorable situation. It was no longer safe for large groups of people to congregate and enjoy music, nor was it safe for groups of musicians to be shoulder-to-shoulder on stage. 

Yet, according to Peter Cooper, dean of the School of Music, the need for good music existed more than ever during unprecedented times. 

“The most important element for us has always been to keep people safe, and that includes not only the musicians but the audience members as well,” Cooper said. “We’ve tried to be mindful and responsible citizens, while still creating music.” 

According to Laurie Redmer Cadwallader, Symphony Orchestra conductor, there were only a couple of live performances last year where guests were allowed to be in attendance, which took place outdoors. 

The other performances were livestreamed and recorded. Additionally, because musicians had to be six feet apart, the full orchestra could not perform at one time because of the size of the Collegedale Church stage. 

Mask wearing, physical distancing and limited in-person rehearsal times were a few of the challenges that musical ensembles faced during the pandemic, according to Cooper. 

Tyler Ronto, junior accounting major and trombone player, has been performing in the orchestra since the beginning of the pandemic. 

“It felt sad performing without an audience because the whole point of making music is for someone to hear it in person and to be able to share that experience with them,” Ronto said.

Despite the challenges, the music ensembles continued. According to Cadwallader, the first “normal” orchestra concert since the pandemic took place in October of 2021. An audience was present, although masks and social distancing were still in place. 

“We were all just so happy to be back and to have people behind us listening, and it felt like the audience was thrilled too,” Cadwallader said. 

The orchestra’s first concert in 2022 took place at the Collegedale Commons for the grand opening of a new building in the community. Cadwallader said the musicians are looking forward to many more live performances this semester.

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