Emma Polen | staff writer
COVID-19 changed a lot about how musicians are able to perform. Duquesne’s Mary Pappert School of Music, with the help of its supportive staff and driven student body, has continued to share music with the world in creative ways.
Music is both a very personal and very public experience, and musicians are innovating new techniques for reaching people on both levels.
With the pandemic, the “personal” experience of music was easy to achieve in confinement. However, the “shared” part was more difficult, as recital halls across the world closed their doors to performers.
Em Yuretich, a junior music education major with a focus in voice, used the challenges of the pandemic to share music differently than she has in the past.
Yuretich took advantage of restrictions and chose a smaller recital space. This was both for her own musical preferences and for the safety of all in attendance.
“I chose to keep a much smaller audience,” Yuretich said. “I opted, as many did, to host a Zoom meeting for others to join in who were not a part of the physical audience.”
Every music student, excluding music therapy majors, have to perform at least one recital as part of their mandatory coursework.
One requirement for these recitals is an “audience.” Under normal circumstances, a music student would have ample space to invite people to come listen in-person in one of Mary Pappert’s recital halls.
However, COVID-19 restricts the maximum capacity of the recital spaces, and the biggest recital hall can only hold a maximum of 30 people.
The “audience” requirement gives Duquesne music students the unique opportunity to still have in-person audience members that many off-campus venues do not have.
The move to primarily virtual sharing of music actually allowed a wider audience a glimpse of the music happening in Mary Pappert.
Steve Groves is the Mary Pappert School of Music director of music engagement, events and marketing. Last December, he was also in charge of editing the music school’s annual Christmas at Duquesne concert. The concert was composed of 13 ensembles. This year, the performances were released completely virtually and posted on the Mary Pappert YouwTube channel during December.
“We had over 14,000 combined views on all those videos during the course of the month, which is a pretty amazing feat for not having done anything like that before that time,” Groves said.
No Duquesne concert hall could hold that many people, which means the recordings reached the ears of many more audience members than they could have with completely in-person viewing.
Restrictive, smaller recital events did not release the stress of live performance, though. Students are still expected to put a tremendous effort into preparation for their student recital.
The pandemic cut many events from the school calendar this past year, but it did not affect the incredible number of hours students spent practicing the pieces they performed at their student recital.
Garret Hoffman, a junior music education and voice major, had his junior recital this year.
“In a certain sense, I’ve been practicing for [the student recital] the entire time I’ve been at Duquesne,” Hoffman said.
The repertoire is a selection of songs he has performed over the course of his lessons here at Duquesne since fall of freshman year.
No music student wants to miss out on their junior recital, even if it comes with extra pressure.
“While it’s stressful to put together and prepare, it’s definitely well worth the effort — especially nowadays, when live musical experiences are so limited and rare,” Hoffman said.
Hoffman said he truly sees the value of sharing live music during the pandemic.
“In spite of the restrictions, in a weird way, I probably appreciated it more than I would have under normal circumstances,” he said.
Groves said that sharing music is such an important part of our lives.
“We all interact with music in some way, literally every day,” Groves said.
Even if COVID-19 restrictions are not yet loosening for events like music students’ recitals, performances will carry on in the music school. This is good news for both the community of musicians here at Duquesne as well as the wider music-enthusiast community who appreciate listening to their content.
Those who wish to view select student recitals can do so on the music school’s YouTube channel, Mary Pappert School of Music.
If you want to see what the Mary Pappert School of Music is currently working on, check out their YouTube and their social media. (Twitter: @MPSoM, Instagram: @marypappertsom, Facebook: @mpsom).