Conservatory Takes Steps to Continue Ensembles and Instruction Remotely

Schmucker Art Gallery (File photo).

Schmucker Art Gallery (File photo)

By Jane Fitzpatrick, Features Editor

The Sunderman Conservatory has been facing new challenges presented in making music together, apart.  Ensembles, from Camerata to Orchestra, are looking forward to some new and exciting projects ahead.

Private instruction and weekly studio meetings are being accomplished through Zoom, using specific settings options to optimize the application for music transmission.  Some studios will also be hosting guest speakers within the Zoom meetings or working on specific research projects for further learning. The Voice Area is welcoming Sarah Tuttle, and alumna, opera singer, and radio show host and Dr. Chuck Chandler, a fitness and singing expert, and the Orchestra has already welcomed Kayoko Dan, Director of the Chattanooga Symphony, for example.  Voice students and instrumentalists in need of accompaniment during lessons are working out ways of pre-recording accompaniment which they then use on their end of the Zoom call. Professors have found some difficulty managing to hear higher registers, so far.

Under the instruction of Dr. Rob Natter, choirs are using the application BandLab to compile every individual voice onto one recording.  This is also the way in which Opera Workshop will be presenting their performances of Viardot’s Cendrillon, which were originally planned to be held in the Majestic Theatre this Spring.  Audio recordings accompanied by art and informative slides about the storyline will be uploaded onto Youtube on April 16th and 17th.

The orchestra has been keeping up with weekly zoom meetings, and they have been using the time to hear from more guest speakers.  Students will also be creating audition videos and participating in various workshops according to their instruments. Under the instruction of Dr. Cesar Leal, students have also been trying out an application called Acapella to keep their artistry alive and collaborative.  The application will allow students to record videos of themselves performing together from different locations.   

Violinist Maggie Halpin ‘22 is thrilled to continue her connection with the orchestra from home. 

“Even though we don’t get to play together, it’s really nice that we’re still having the class and working on something instead of cancelling,” said Halpin.

The Balinese ensemble Gamelan, directed by Dr. Brent Talbot, is continuing as well.  They will be exploring a musical practice called Kecak, which is a rhythmic spoken word performance done by a group of people.  Gamelan has been a unique and talented group on campus, and the students and faculty will be continuing to learn about how they can perform Balinese music from afar. 

Students of the Sunderman Conservatory have maintained positive attitudes during this challenging process, and they are grateful for the efforts of the professors at Gettysburg who are committed to keeping the art of music and education alive. 

Violist Bridget Haines ‘21 said she is especially proud to be a member of such a devoted and hard working community.

“[T]he fact that our ensembles are meeting at all is really rare,” said Haines.  “A lot of my friends at other institutions have had their ensemble rehearsal’s suspended. It just makes me realize how special the Conservatory is.”

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Author: Jane Fitzpatrick

Jane Fitzpatrick '21 serves as Features Editor of The Gettysburgian. She is a Religious Studies major and Middle East & Islamic Studies minor.

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