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College football schedule today: TV channels, start times for every NCAA game on Saturday - Sporting News

The College Football Playoff grows ever closer after the first rankings were released this week. All four teams in the Top 4 play this weekend, with Notre Dame having played on Friday. It's Rivalry Week in the SEC, meaning fans will be treated to arguably the best rivalry in sports as No. 1 Alabama plays host to No. 22 Auburn. The Tide will be without coach Nick Saban who tested positive for COVID-19 earlier in the week, but the Tigers could be without one of the best freshman running backs in the nation in Tank Bigsby who suffered an injury last week against Tennessee. After edging out Indiana in a closer than expected game, No. 4 Ohio State returns to action against a 2-3 Illinois team. Justin Fields should be able to reinsert his name into the Heisman discussion after throwing three interceptions against the Hoosiers. Indiana dropped to No. 12 in this week's rankings and plays Maryland this weekend. MORE: Watch select NCAA football games live with fuboTV (7-day trial) N

University of Arizona choirs get creative to make music during COVID-19 pandemic - Arizona Daily Star

University of Arizona choirs get creative to make music during COVID-19 pandemic - Arizona Daily Star

University of Arizona choirs get creative to make music during COVID-19 pandemic - Arizona Daily Star

Posted: 07 Oct 2020 08:40 AM PDT

The sounds of "Silent Night" echoed throughout the otherwise empty 2,500-seat Centennial Hall on Sept. 30 when almost all 36 members of the University of Arizona Symphonic Choir met in person.

They were wearing masks and standing 12 feet apart, finally reunited as an ensemble to rehearse the fan-favorite song from their annual "Holiday Card to Tucson" concert recital.

"It was kind of emotional, just because we don't get to do our holiday concert," chorister Lylah Field said. "That is the biggest concert we do every single year, but it's more than just a concert. Family members come into town, we fill the entire St. Augustine Cathedral downtown, and it's an amazing experience. So, it was cool to have that moment."

For choirs during a worldwide pandemic, trying to sing in sync via Zoom is out of the question. As for singing in person, the options are both limited and complicated, but choir directors are getting creative. From the Grammy-nominated True Concord Voices & Orchestra to the University Community Chorus, vocal ensembles across Tucson are adapting to COVID-19 in myriad ways.

After spending an entire summer planning and experimenting, the UA Fred Fox School of Music choirs have come up with some interesting strategies.

The University Community Chorus, which is open to all, can have about 100 singers. Because that includes vulnerable populations, they are operating entirely online this semester. The rest, which are audition-only, use a flex model, where they meet both via Zoom and in person.

The UA undergrad Symphonic Choir is under the direction of music professor Elizabeth Schauer, who said the keys to her success this semester are to "be safe, be creative and adjust your expectations accordingly."

"In some of our classes we might not be able to cover as much as we had before," she said. "We want to make sure that everybody has a good educational experience and stays connected."

When in person, the choirs practice for no more than 30 minutes in large indoor spaces, such as Centennial Hall. They maintain at least 12 feet in between them, always wear masks, and only meet three to four times a week. They rehearse in small groups of about eight singers, each assigned two graduate conductors. Those who are uncomfortable with practicing in person or who show any virus symptoms can participate online. The full ensemble will only meet as a group three to four times throughout the semester — two of those times in a covered parking garage.

"My approach with this is to always assume that it's possible that someone among us has the virus," Schauer said.

Field, 21, has been in the Symphonic Choir going on four years. She said that singing with a mask is difficult because it's harder to breathe, to project and to open your jaw wide enough to make the correct vowel sounds. But the singer's lungs seem to be adapting, even though it feels as if they are singing at a higher altitude, she said.

"Honestly, I feel like the choirs that come out of this COVID-era are going to be next level, because they'll have lung stamina for days," Field said.

Alyssa Cossey, the community choir director, created the University Community Chorus Virtual Webinar Series that meets at 6 p.m. on the second and fourth Tuesday of the month throughout the fall semester. The sessions are free and open to the public and include live, interactive events, singalongs and choral lectures both on Zoom and the UCC Facebook page.

Cossey wanted to start the webinars as a way to bring into conversation certain themes about inclusion and diversity in the choral field that aren't usually accessible during a normal, time-crunched semester.

"In addition to the global pandemic, we are also dealing with this racial inequity that as a country we're really trying to reckon with right now," she said. "UCC's slogan is: 'Putting the community back in chorus,' so this gives us a chance to examine music that we don't normally do."

For Field, it's hard to juggle her passion for singing with the complications that could come with getting sick. The possible risk for her family, roommates and herself have to be weighed every day against both the opportunity and hazards of getting to do one large, in-person rehearsal.

COVID-19 has made Jordan Padilla, 19, that much more appreciative of singing in an ensemble.

"It's a great joy to have people singing safely in person," Schauer said.

Sunday Holland is a UA journalism student apprenticing at the Star.

Maurice Edwards, Busy Figure in Theater and Music, Dies at 97 - The New York Times

Posted: 08 Oct 2020 10:45 AM PDT

This obituary is part of a series about people who have died in the coronavirus pandemic. Read about others here.

Maurice Edwards, whose long and varied résumé included directing operas and stage plays, acting in numerous Off Broadway productions and a few on Broadway and helping to found experimental theater troupes and manage the Brooklyn Philharmonic, died on Sept. 23 in Englewood, N.J. He was 97.

His executor, James Waller, said the cause was the novel coronavirus. Mr. Edwards's nephew and closest living relative, Allen Markson, said Mr. Edwards had moved to the Actors Fund Home in Englewood from a nursing home in Queens five days before his death.

Mr. Edwards was a man of many interests and seemed to find ways to indulge them all. In 1968 he was a founder of the Cubiculo on the West Side of Manhattan, a seat-of-the-pants theater operation that presented plays, poetry readings, films and lots of dance.

"To its growing, usually youthful, public — which often spills out of the 60‐ to 75‐chair seating area — the Cubiculo is unique," The New York Times wrote in 1970 of the group, for which Mr. Edwards served as program coordinator.

In 1974 he was a founder of another adventurous Manhattan troupe, the Classic Theater, which he described as "an Off Off Broadway group specializing in seldom-performed classics."

A production Mr. Edwards directed in 1978 underscored just how committed the troupe was to that mission. It was called "The Country Gentleman," and Thomas Lask's review in The New York Times began this way:

"The Classic Theater, now holding forth at the Loretto Playhouse, 20 Bleecker Street, has come up with a rarity — a world premiere of a play 300 years old."

The play was a comedy written by Sir Robert Howard and George Villiers, Second Duke of Buckingham, and took potshots at one of the duke's rivals. King Charles II shut down rehearsals before it could be performed, and it lay dormant for centuries until it was discovered in the Folger Library in Washington. Mr. Edwards heard about it and latched on.

He was artistic director of the Classic Theater from 1974 to 1989. The next year he became artistic director of the Brooklyn Philharmonic Orchestra, which he had been involved with for decades, first as assistant manager (when the group was known as the Brooklyn Philharmonia), then as manager and executive director. It was a period in which the orchestra, as The Times noted in 1989, "evolved from essentially a community ensemble to a highly visible part of New York's musical life."

As artistic director, Mr. Edwards was responsible for the planning of recordings and tours. He served until 1997. In 2006 he told the ensemble's story in the book "How Music Grew in Brooklyn: A Biography of the Brooklyn Philharmonic Orchestra."

He told his own story in "Revelatory Letters to Nina Cassian" (2011), an unusual memoir structured as a series of letters to Ms. Cassian, the exiled Romanian poet, whom he had married in 1998. The letters recounted episodes from his life and pondered their meaning. Eve Berliner, in her online magazine, called the book "a symphony of language and art and dance and music and literature."

Maurice Edward Levine was born on Dec. 7, 1922, in Amasa, on Michigan's Upper Peninsula. According to a notation in the archives of the New School, where he donated some papers, he changed his name when he joined the Actors' Equity Association sometime after World War II because there was another actor with his name.

His father, Henry, was a trader in furs and scrap metal, and his mother, Sophia (Manhoff) Levine, was a homemaker.

Mr. Edwards grew up in Madison, Wis., and in the 1940s earned a bachelor's degree at New York University and a master's in comparative literature at Columbia University. In that same decade he served in the Army, earning a Bronze Star when he, as the citation put it, "displayed great ability and self-sacrificing devotion by moving under fire to secure assistance" when his billeting party came under German sniper fire in April 1945.

Mr. Edwards was a busy actor and, if never quite a famous one, worked opposite some who were or soon would be.

He made his Broadway debut in 1950 in a secondary role in "Happy as Larry," a vehicle for Burgess Meredith that lasted only three performances. His next Broadway turn, in 1954, fared better; it was the musical "The Golden Apple," which helped elevate Kaye Ballard to stardom. He also played Nachum, the town beggar, in the original Broadway production of "Fiddler on the Roof" in 1964, with a cast led by Zero Mostel as Tevye.

Off Broadway, his many credits included stepping into the role of Mr. J.J. Peachum as a replacement player in "The Threepenny Opera," which opened at the Theatre de Lys in Greenwich Village in the mid-1950s and ran until 1961. He was also one of many replacement players in the long run of "The Fantasticks," taking on the role of the father of the female lead.

Mr. Edwards's list of acting credits was rivaled in length by his list of directing credits. He directed dozens of plays for the Classic Theater, the Cubiculo and other groups. He also directed a number of operas, including several at the Brooklyn Academy of Music presented by the Brooklyn Philharmonic.

Ms. Cassian died in 2014. Mr. Edwards had previously been married to Ann Alpert, who died in 1973. A son from that marriage, Jacob, died in 2007.

Among those who worked with Mr. Edwards was the composer Leonard J. Lehrman. Mr. Lehrman completed Marc Blitzstein's opera "Sacco and Vanzetti," about the Italian immigrants executed in 1927 after having been convicted of murder during a highly questionable trial; Mr. Blitzstein had left it unfinished at his death in 1964. When Mr. Lehrman premiered the work at the White Barn Theater in Connecticut in 2001 he called upon Mr. Edwards to play two different Massachusetts governors: Alvan T. Fuller, who refused to grant clemency in the case, leading to the executions, and Michael S. Dukakis, who 50 years later issued a proclamation affirming that the two had been unfairly tried.

"Maurice was quite a character," Mr. Lehrman, who knew him for 30 years, said by email, "full of anecdotes, stories, puns and insights. It was sometimes not easy to end a phone conversation with him, but seldom did one want to!"

Beautycore warriors: St. Johns sisters storming metal scene as Gold Frankincense & Myrrh - The Florida Times-Union

Posted: 08 Oct 2020 08:42 PM PDT

Tom Szaroleta   | Florida Times-Union

The English sisters are a study in contrasts.

On the one hand, CJ, Maggie and LuLu are bright and articulate, taking online classes from Liberty University to finish high school and college degrees. 

On the other, they're sweet and goofy, the stars of a series of online videos in which they deep-fry pizza and cornflakes, hunt for Bigfoot, sample birthday cake flavors and paint a wall.

And on the other other (OK, that's three hands, but there are three sisters), they are Gold Frankincense & Myrrh, a ferocious, in-your-face punk-metal band that pioneered the whole "beautycore" scene, hardcore music played by women.

They've just released a new six-song EP, "Operation Takeover," and would probably be on tour right now if COVID-19 hadn't shut down the live music business.

"We're constantly playing online shows," said Lulu, 16, GFM's drummer. "I feel like that kind of counts. That's a really strange thing to do, pretending that there are people in the crowd." 

Fans help write songs

"Operation Takeover" is GFM's third release, following 2016's full album, "Identity Crisis," and 2019's six-song EP "Oh, The Horror." A new single, "Susan," which was recorded in their home studio in St. Johns, came out this summer.

The band members are involved in writing most of the songs but, in the case of "Susan," got a helping hand from their fans. The band was the first to use SONGLINKR, a new online service that connects artists and songwriters. For "Susan," they connected with their own fans to write the parody song about a guy who loves his girlfriend more than his skateboard. It was released in June, accompanied by a video filmed at Jacksonville's Kona Skate Park.

The band has filmed several music videos around Jacksonville. "We shot a couple in downtown Jacksonville in some strange tunnel we didn't know existed," said bass player Maggie, 19. "We try to definitely take advantage of our home city and different studios and stuff."

Guitarist CJ, 21, said they've played concerts all over the U.S. and in Germany but not many in their hometown.

"We don't play Jacksonville as often as we used to," LuLu said. "We usually are touring all year round. Our fan base is really all over the place, and Jacksonville isn't really known for its metal genre-lovingness."

A rare return home

That doesn't mean they don't want to play Jacksonville. "We're definitely trying to grow ourselves so we can play the bigger venues in Jacksonville," Maggie added.

There is a strange disconnect between talking with the sisters and watching their videos. On the phone, Maggie sounds a lot like her sisters. On stage, she has a deep heavy metal growl you'd expect to hear from a bearded guy with tattoos and a mohawk. 

She said that came from years of experimenting and listening to other metal singers. It turns out it's easier to scream in a low voice than in a high one. "That's my real voice, she said. "It's not Autotuned or pitched lower or anything."  

All of the band members are involved in writing songs. "We all have a very big part in the writing process," Maggie said. "We like to bring in cowriters so all the songs don't all' sound the same. That's something that keeps CFM very fresh."

CFM has played plenty of shows at churches and the band's name would seem to imply that they are a Christian act, but they say that's not necessarily the case. They call their music "beautycore," hardcore metal music played by women.

"We consider ourselves as a positive message act with Christian members," LuLu said. "Our main goal as a band is to spread the message of hope. We understand that there is a lot of negativity in the world. You're perfect the way you are and we want to share the love of Christ and His message, but we don't want to force it on anyone."

'Nothing is too silly for us'

The sisters have more than 6,000 subscribers to their YouTube channel, where fans can find music videos, behind-the-scenes peeks and lighthearted scenes of them trying spicy foods, deep-frying pizza and Frosted Flakes and going bowling. 

"Nothing is too silly for us," LuLu said. "We really like to just be genuine on our YouTube channel. We have a fake reality TV show. It's just us."

As for the future, the sisters are taking online classes (they're former Trinity Christian students but were missing too many days because of their touring schedule) and itching for the day when they can get out and play live for their fans. "We definitely want to do this for as long as possible," Maggie said.

Classical reinvention - Rochester Beacon

Posted: 08 Oct 2020 06:56 AM PDT

Rochester's distinctive cultural sector has been transformed by COVID-19. An earlier Rochester Beacon story addressed the challenge confronting the community's many museums. Rochester's world-class musicians face the same challenges and more. Yet as Erik Behr, the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra's principal oboe, notes: "Creative people, with some money behind them, can do amazing things."

Aspiring artists must confront an unpleasant fact: Only a few get rich in the business. Most career musicians cobble together multiple gigs to assemble a full-time salary. The average salary for a full-time RPO musician is just over $41,000 for a 38-week season. During the season, many maintain a studio with private students or teach at one of the local colleges. Some get an opportunity to play concerts with the Society for Chamber Music in Rochester or other performing groups.

Grace Browning

The 38-week RPO season allows many to participate in one or more of the many music festivals held around the country each summer. Except this one.

Grace Browning, the RPO's principal harpist, had a busy summer planned in New Mexico as a member of the Santa Fe Opera Orchestra with a schedule that included performances like Rossini's "The Barber of Seville" and Wagner's "Tristan Und Isolde." But it was not to be. The entire season was canceled on May 11.

She also was slated to participate in the Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival. Yet all of its 45 concerts, scheduled from July 19 to Aug. 24, also were canceled. 

The Living Room Series

What's a harpist to do?

"Nothing" isn't in. Browning's vocabulary. Along with violinist Willa Finck, Browning proposed a livestream from RPO musicians on Facebook and YouTube. They approached Rob Simonds, principal second violin, to host the first of the series. Set in his living room ("my stage," says Simonds, the Living Room Series was launched.)

Rob Simonds on his living room stage.

The informal and virtual settings permitted the performers to introduce themselves to the audience with a level of intimacy that is impossible from the stage of Kodak Hall. Browning hosted Episode 2.  Wes (trumpet) and Shannon (violin) Nance recruited daughters Brianna and Bridget to join their living room offeringViolinist Thomas Rodgers' contribution came from his family home in Indiana, accompanied by his father (also a professional musician). Bassist Jeff Campbell included wife Charlene on piano, daughters Lydia and Louisa on vocals, son Nelson on trombone and Jackson and Westin on bass. 

Living Room outdoors on Aug. 8

As the weather improved, the Living Room moved outside. Browning, Finck and cellist Ben Krug initiated the outdoor series, with sponsorship from M&T Bank and Rochester Regional Health. My wife and I joined the small audience on Aug. 8—a wonderful performance of the Brahms String Sextet No. 1, hosted in the backyard of RPO violist Mark Anderson.  With the help of friends, the technology of the series now included three cameras and improved audio. Browning added video director to her list of assignments, watching the score & directing the three cameras. 

With a view of the Liberty Pole demonstrations from her Sibley Square apartment, Browning encouraged the RPO to participate in a Black Lives Matter rally at Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Park.

RPO plays Copland's "Fanfare for the Common Man" at Black Lives Matter rally.

Yings guide Bowdoin Festival

Rochester musicians play leadership roles in various summer festivals. The Ying Quartet's Phillip and David Ying became the artistic directors of the Bowdoin International Music Festival in 2014. Begun in 1964, the six-week annual festival provides outstanding student musicians an opportunity to interact with professional musicians and their peers at Bowdoin College in Brunswick, ME. The 2019 season invited 284 students (of 1,185 applicants) from 35 states and 15 countries to work with 47 faculty and 30 guest artists in nearly 2,000 lessons and classes. The festival's 71 concerts, some livestreamed to 50 states and 94 countries, reached an estimated 54,000 people. 

Recorded on July 18, 2020.

COVID-19 made a reprise of 2019 impossible—the intimacy of individual lessons, small group master classes and small ensemble rehearsals would have exposed students, faculty and audience to infection risk. The festival responded by refunding student tuition and reducing the performance schedule significantly. Having invested in livestreaming over the previous three seasons, the festival was able to stream some prerecorded content plus new content from musicians who were able to play together such as the Ying Quartet. With continued support from selected sponsors, the festival also offered master classes at no charge and was able to pay participating faculty. In addition, the festival was able to do a "composition project" that enabled student composers to create works for faculty fellows, interacting remotely. "We did enough to achieve our goals of continuing our mission and maintaining a connection," Phillip Ying says.

Sun Valley Music Festival Reimagined: Juliana Athayde and Erik Behr

Juliana Athayde and Erik Behr

The RPO's concertmaster, Juliana Athayde, and principal oboe Behr perform the same roles for the Sun Valley Music Festival in Idaho. RPO violinist Perrin Yang is also a member of the festival orchestra. 

A prominent second home community for the well-heeled from the Bay Area and Seattle, Sun Valley was hit early with COVID-19 and festival organizers swiftly pivoted to virtual performances. They resolved to offer virtual performances for every night with previously scheduled in-person concerts, 14 in all. Behr reports that with a "go big or go home" attitude "with wallets to support it," the festival mounted "a more extravagant online effort than any orchestra in the country."

To construct composite recordings from musicians scattered about the country, the festival designated a dozen satellite recording locations (including Rochester) and shipped a "recording studio in a box" not just to the sites but also the homes of many performers. As Athyade and Behr were playing a number of pieces with New York City-based pianist Orion Weiss, the festival brought Weiss to Rochester to record. 

A top-notch technical team, including skilled California-based video directors, wove the various recordings together into a harmonious whole.

To mimic the "live, in-person" performance character of the music, each concert streamed only once. The end product is not available for download or on an on-demand platform. There was a live audience for the final streamed product—lawn admission to the festival was free by registration. The spacious lawn was divided into socially-distanced 2, 4 or 6-person pods and could accommodate 1,000.

The venerable Chautauqua Institution adapts

One of New York's cultural jewels, the Chautauqua Institution occupies 750 acres on the shores of Chautauqua Lake near Jamestown. Operating since 1874, its nine-week summer season typically draws as many as 100,000 to attend live theater, opera, lectures and musical events over the summer. About 7,500 people are in residence on any day during the season.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo's New York State on Pause executive order called a halt to in-person programming. Nearly all of Chautauqua's unique mix of lectures and debates about social challenges, public policy and the role of all forms of spirituality were retained but converted from live to virtual events. With interstate travel and in-person performances severely restricted, the institution also resolved to make nearly all content available online through the Chautauqua Assembly portal. Available through a subscription to (free 90-day trial period, then $4 a month), the rich and rewarding content of the Chautauqua Institution is available to anyone.

Most of what was scheduled for the Chautauqua Assembly speaker series could be shifted to a virtual format with little difficulty. The variety here is impressive, including speeches or conversations with thought leaders like the Washington Post's Ruth Marcus on the Supreme Court, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush on education or retired Sen. Barbara Mikulski on women's suffrage; plus, panels and speakers exploring climate change or the interplay between art and democracy. Chautauqua's traditional focus on spirituality also was shifted online, including discussions with prominent religious leaders plus meditation in Christian, Sufi, Yoga, Dharma and Zen traditions. 

Arts programming wasn't so easily converted. Nearly the entire schedule came suddenly down. Deborah Sunya Moore, Chautauqua's head of arts programming, had to transform or replace over 100 performances. 

Like the Sun Valley Music Festival, Chautauqua shipped studio kits around the country to facilitate quality remote recording and livestream. Moore also tapped musicians who either live within driving distance or spend their summers at the institution, as do many members of the Chautauqua Symphony. She tapped the Eastman School of Music's Ying Quartet for a concert in August, for example.

She and her staff resolved that replicating the traditional two-hour physical concerts would be a mistake and resolved to limit the online events to one hour, typically 40 minutes of music followed by 20 minutes of conversation. 

Full opera productions were out of the question—talk about aerosols! Instead of planned productions of Puccini's "Tosca" and the contemporary "Thumbprint" by Kamala Sankaram, the institution hosted virtual "sing-ins" with 20 upcoming vocalists. 

The weekly Cocktails, Concerts and Conversations featured a number of artists, including Ilya Kaler, concertmaster of the RPO from 1996 to 2001.

Ilya Kaler

Master classes with Renee Fleming, Susan Graham and other stars were also featured over the summer.

Sample more of Moore's miraculous summer season. 

Creative solutions in performance

Musicians love to play together—even physical distancing on a stage can make those subtle cues they exchange harder to read. Given variable delays in electronic connections, it isn't possible to actually record "together." The RPO's wonderful cello section recorded "Home on the Range" by sequentially layering the parts on top of one another. 

RPO cellists perform "Home on the Range"

Even more ambitious, 61 RPO musicians recorded Jeff Tyzik's "A Call to Worship" (part of his "Pleasant Valley Suite") by the same means—each instrumentalist played with a prior recording heard through an earpiece or headset. Four of the Sun Valley Music Festival's concerts employed the same approach with its 100-strong orchestra.

RPO musicians record Jeff Tyzik's "Pleasant Valley Suite."

What does the future hold?

The world of music performance has been dramatically altered by COVID-19. Some of these changes are irreversible; others may not be, depending on the path of the virus. 

Free streaming has been a rational, near-term response to the need of performers like the RPO and presenters like the festivals to stay relevant. "Out of sight, out of mind" is the fear whenever an event is canceled. 

Streaming brings significant advantages, however, by opening both time and geography to presenters, performers and students. Performances need not occur at a single point in time or be limited to a predetermined list of eligible viewers. 

How can the new order be monetized?

Performers must be paid, however, The RPO is experimenting with a form of pay per event, similar to how individual concerts are charged. 

  • "RPO at Home: Philharmonics" concerts are priced at $10 each or $9 each when purchased as a series. Purchasing a pass allows access to the concert for up to 45 days after the original broadcast. The concerts are recorded in the Hochstein School of Music Performance Hall. 
  • "RPO at Home: Chamber Ensemble" concerts are smaller events priced for streaming at $5. Weather permitting, a limited outdoor audience can purchase tickets for $40 each. 

The Chautauqua Institution is experiencing some considerable success with its subscription model, which starts with a 90-day free trial. Subsequently priced at $3.99 a month, the institution offers tremendous breadth and depth of content at an affordable price. With 10,000 subscribers already, the new model is off to a good start.

The Sun Valley Music Festival has long been heavily supported through philanthropy. With a strong and loyal base of contributors, the festival was able to respond to the COVID challenge very effectively. 

Musicians who depend on touring to earn a living have been particularly affected by COVID. Although members of the Ying Quartet have appointments at the Eastman School, they earn a portion of their income through touring. Canceled travel this year includes performances in Colorado, Mexico, Cape Cod and Maine as well as two tentative China tours. Grounded for the time being, they are exploring the idea of performing all 16 Beethoven string quartets. Might there be a sponsorship possibility here? 

Is it live or is it Memorex?

The audio tape manufacturer Memorex ran an advertising campaign featuring Ella Fitzgerald that suggested that its recordings were just as good as live. Ubiquitous streaming revisits that question, although the question isn't audio quality but performance quality. How do we balance the excitement and risk of live performance against the near-perfection that can be achieved in the recording studio?

The Sun Valley Music Festival preserved the fiction of a live event by making the performances available only once. The Chautauqua Institution made the opposite decision, weaving a marvelous tapestry of live and recorded music, and placing it on its portal for all to enjoy. 

There is room for both perspectives; finances will drive the conclusion.

Expanding beyond the summer season

Through its online portal, the Chautauqua Assembly, the Chautauqua Institution is expanding its programming beyond the six-week summer season. A 10-day residency with Winton Marsalis and his Jazz at Lincoln Center Septet begins next Wednesday and will be streamed over the CHQ portal.

Similarly, the Bowdoin Festival is exploring how its education offerings can continue through the year. 

Might online actually be better for some purposes?

Renee Fleming

Most musicians are evangelists—they love to share their love of music and their instrument. Teachers and students have been forced to online instruction by COVID-19 and some have found that it has advantages. As an example, many members of the Eastman School faculty are providing lessons to students living in Asia and unable to return to Rochester. 

The online master class may actually have advantages. Chautauqua's Moore reports very high student satisfaction from the online master classes offered. Recorded vocal coaching from the likes of Graham and  Fleming can be very effective for the participants and for those who can observe.

Challenging as these events are for performers, access to great recorded music has expanded tremendously for music consumers. Live music is different, to be sure, and can't be replaced with great video and audio streams. But musicians have been reinventing themselves since the day of wandering minstrels and are quite capable of responding to these new challenges.

The RPO's 'Fire Drill'

Leaving Kodak Hall on Friday, March 6, the audience and nearly 300 participants in Benjamin Britten's massive and deeply moving "The War Requiem" were unaware that this would be the last concert in that hallowed hall until … when?

Barbara Brown

Barbara Brown, director of Education for the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra, had spent that week confirming the details of the RPO's popular education concerts. Morning concerts were scheduled for the following Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, promising a cavalcade of yellow school buses filled with 8,000 schoolchildren.

On Saturday, Brown received a phone call from RPO president Curt Long—"just a 'heads-up' (and probably nothing to worry about), but there was a possibility that the university might not allow the concerts to go forward." By Monday, it was confirmed—the governor had declared a state of emergency over the weekend and the university wasn't taking any chances. The orchestra could play—but the children couldn't attend.

Brown nearly ran to catch the end of the rehearsal and share the news, then sent emails to teachers to halt the cavalcade. 

Canceling wasn't considered. One of the highlights of the year for the RPO, the orchestra resolved to keep its promise to the children over livestream. The now-online concert was rescheduled for Friday, March 13, five days away. 

Kodak Hall had only a single camera. Brown and her colleagues knew that a static view would bore a young audience raised on the internet. Fortunately, a special events company was familiar with the space and eager to help with additional cameras and the knowledge required to "orchestrate" the concert.

Stephania Romaniuk and Herb Smith.

But what about the program? Titled "Get Out the Vote" (with women's suffrage and the upcoming election in mind), they had planned a competition between the trumpet and clarinet, with the children voting for their favorite at the end of the concert. A brainstorm of flamboyant trumpeter Herb Smith (and the concert's conductor), the script was rewritten and the "vote" was taken using online polling software. 

Churchville students vote.

Art submitted by the children was employed as a background; a planned sing-along was led by an Eastman School student. 

A resounding success, there were 250 logins from 80 schools, some from distant states. 

"It really was the BEST day," Brown says.  "The entire RPO family came together to create a magical moment." 

For nearly every participating school, March 13 was the last day of in-person classes.

Kent Gardner is Rochester Beacon opinion editor.


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