Live music: concerts return in full force

Juliette Amram, Copy Editor

In late December and early January, the band, orchestra, and chorus performed in their first winter concerts since lockdown.

Many student musicians were excited to perform again after two years of virtual music programs.

“I didn’t know how much I would miss the concerts until the whole pandemic happened and we weren’t allowed to have them,” said senior band and chorus member Sanjit G.

The chorus concert was postponed due to coronavirus concerns, causing disappointment among students.

“It was understandable [to postpone the concert] because of the rising level in cases, obviously. I didn’t want more people to get sick. I didn’t want to put other people at risk. So, I think they made the right call, but it was a little disheartening to have to wait a little bit,” said Sanjit G.

All three concerts were ultimately able to happen, but there was uncertainty about them taking place at all.

“We had so many kids that were quarantined or out sick with COVID […]. There’s a risk in that if you postpone it instead of having it, will it ever happen? But, if we were to have it [then], then you’d only have half of your ensemble, and that other half would not have experienced the live music, which was our ultimate goal,” said chorus teacher Colleen Agovino.

There were many aspects to consider when preparing for the winter concerts.

“First of all, you want to pick your repertoire: what do you want to play? […] We also need to consider, how can we create a moving experience for our audience? What types of pieces can we put together to make something a truly enjoyable experience? After we pick our repertoire, then you obviously have to start learning the music. And sure, we always go with the easy stuff first. What’s written on the page? What’s the ink? But then comes the real fun part of music. What can we gather more from the notes on the page? What’s beyond the ink? And this is where we start exploring: what was the composer thinking when they were writing this, what are those subtle nuances of the dynamics, and what tone colors are they trying to create,” said Tri-M president Ashley H.

The planning process, especially this year, posed many challenges.

“Where does the conductor stand? Where does the accompanist play on the piano? Are the kids going to be able to see you that are up on the stage versus the conductor down in the pit? There’s a lot of unknown,” said Agovino.

For some underclass performers, this was their first concert. Many of them experienced nervousness upon having to perform in an unusual, spread out formation due to coronavirus guidelines. These guidelines also forced the ensembles to rehearse and perform in different locations. The band classes had to practice in the auditorium instead of the band room, and the chorus classes had to rehearse in the Student Study Center instead of the chorus room. Additionally, the concerts were held at the Commack Middle School gymnasium instead of the traditional high school auditorium.

“[The students] said they felt more exposed. They were more nervous to sing out. They couldn’t hear people on the other side because everything was so far apart,” said Agovino.

This year’s live winter concerts were part of an overall transition of having school events with live audiences.

“In other areas outside of school that involve music, we have already begun implementing live audiences, and these live audiences are coming from several areas of the U.S. where it’s not only limited to Commack here. So, I do think if we are to take the necessary precautions, we’ll be completely fine with having live audiences,” said Ashley H.

These musical events have a great significance to the people who participate in them.

“As a senior, this is my last opportunity to be performing with a lot of my peers, and for me, it’s making music with friends and the family that I’ve come to hold in these departments. It’s just a great way to share something we all enjoy and to present a gift to someone else via a medium that we love,” said Ashley H.

These concerts were also able to build excitement around the next musical event, the Pops Cabaret, which allowed students to perform pieces of their own choosing.🔳