Hartt Has IT this semester

...and here's why

Image+Courtesy+of+Hartt+School

Image Courtesy of Hartt School

Grace Mittleman, Staff Writer

Performing arts were really hit hard by the pandemic.  All of the Broadway shows in New York are closed until 2021.  Public schools had to cancel their theatrical productions and end-of-year concerts for the 2019-2020 school year; even while still in rehearsals. Artist World Tours were postponed to the next year.

However, after facing a closure last semester that no one in their right minds expected, the Hartt School is BACK and ready to kick into action ONCE AGAIN.

While many of these majors won’t be run as they were previously, the Hartt School students and faculty are proving to everyone that despite all the precautions, the social distancing, and the reminders to “Wear your mask!” (by the way, please wear your mask when it’s applicable), they can make magic happen!  Here’s a quick glimpse of some departments and what they’ve been up to.

Choir

The Spring 2020 Choir Concert was supposed to be Dr. Edward Bolkovac’s last one. It was extremely unfortunate that the University had to shut down and the choir could no longer perform in honor of this great conductor. Despite this, Dr. Bolkovac led the choir department with such grace and wisdom, and he will be missed.

After not being able to sing together for six months, Choir is back in session!  In times of COVID-19, choir is a hybrid course run by Dr. Anthony Trecek-King and Benjamin Rauch. Their aim is to make it as engaging of an experience as possible. One way they’ve been doing this (which makes my heart sing, literally), is that we are able to sing together! In person! Masked choir members sing at a distance outdoors, and we’ve been introduced to a new repertoire. On Wednesdays, the choir meets on Zoom and talks skills largely relating to choral singing.

Another way choir has become more engaging is the use of “Slack.”  “Slack” is a collaborative database where people can intermingle with each other, share videos, ask questions, and more. Through the use of “Slack,” choir members and faculty are able to connect with one another and share their common bond of choral singing!

If you are interested in joining the Hartt School Choirs, please contact [email protected] or [email protected]

 

Vocal Division

I am a vocal student, and I am impressed by the lengths this department has gone to provide a safe and educational singing experience for its students!

Let’s talk about the singer’s mask. Voice students have been using singer’s masks to sing into while they work. They have a bigger opening by the mouth, making singing with a mask a more pleasurable experience.

While students are working with their teachers, coaches, or pianists in an in-person one-on-one lesson, they sing to a fan and an open window so the air particles can safely escape the room.

It is a different experience for sure. However, vocalists are making it work whether it be through virtual lessons/seminars or in person lectures, and for that we say KUDOS.

Be on the lookout for live streamed performances, especially for Undergraduate and Graduate Recitals!

 

Instrumental Division

Wind and Orchestral Ensembles are facing different experiences.  Instrumental Ensembles have been broken down into several groups so they are able to adhere to social distancing guidelines. These groups include many brass choirs, small wind ensemble and orchestral groups, and multiple chamber groups that rehearse around campus.

Some of the guidelines and protocols in place for these ensembles include wearing playing masks (a mask in which there is a slit by the mouth), disinfecting your playing area, being sure to put the filter and bell cover on your instrument, and being productive during 45 minute rehearsals and vacating the area for the required 30 minute air purge. Making sure to follow all these protocols has been a challenge, but the faculty and students at Hartt have been working their best to create THE Hartt ensemble experience for performers, educators, and virtual audience members.

“Rehearsing during a pandemic is an eye opening experience coming from an educator’s point of view,” Justina Kender (a junior majoring in Music Education and Trombone Performance) writes to me,  “As a trombonist, it is definitely a learning experience adhering to these guidelines. The bell cover changes the tone quality of the sound, the tuning of the instrument, and has resistance that was not there before. I am still in the process of adapting to these adjustments, but it is very interesting to see how we can come together to create music, even though there are so many protocols in place.”

The Hartt Instrumental Ensembles are hoping to have virtual performances of their works. “Nothing official has been updated on this, but I heard when an ensemble is ready to perform, their group will announce it a week in advance, and, during their allotted rehearsal time, will play their repertory which will be live-streamed to the public since no outside visitors can attend the concerts.” Justina Kender writes.  Be on the lookout for these pop-up performances! One that is coming up in the very near future is a performance by the Brass Choir in front of the Mortensen libraries.

 

Theatre Division

Despite not being able to perform for in person audiences, the Hartt School Theatre Division isn’t slowing down one bit.

The juniors in the Actor in Training (AT for short) program have cast and are working on the production of “Middletown” by Will Eno, a satirical spin of the well-known play, “Our Town.” They’ve been working on rehearsals since August 26th (the first day of school) and most recently they just finished Act Two. There is talk of making this socially-distanced production into a movie and presenting it to the public!

“I personally have been enjoying having my classes, and although it’s different this year because we have to wear masks and be six feet apart at all times, I’m still able to learn just as much and enjoy the process just as much as before.” Hallie Friedman, a junior AT major, says, “For my acting class the other day, we were doing a Meisner technique exercise where we had to just do something we always do. One of my peers decided to paint her nails, so the whole class, all 16 of us, watched her paint her nails for 4-5 minutes. After, the teacher asked her some questions and asked her to justify why she was wearing the mask. She explained that she was wearing it because she was in the living room and a plumber was over because their toilet was clogged, or something like that. Either way she justified why she was wearing the mask.”

“We’re not ignoring our current given circumstances, instead we’re using them to our advantage which has been super cool and frustrating at the same time!” Hallie Friedman continues, “My point is that although the mask is a disadvantage in some cases, it’s also been an interesting, yet difficult, new addition to what we do.” I couldn’t agree more with Hallie’s points; there is a different angle for everything!

Dance Division

Dancers at The Hartt School are continuing to learn from a variety of different guest artists. “We just held a Master Class with Desmond Richardson on Saturday [September 5th] with a discussion following,” Stephen Pier, Artistic Director of the Hartt Dance Division, writes to me, “It was a stimulating and inspiring way to start the new year.”

This master class is the first of many in the dance division’s “Black Dance Matters” series.  The series will introduce dance students to leaders in the field of dance who share their personal experiences, their artistry, and their advocacy.

Next in the series on October 10th will be Virginia Johnson, Artistic Director of Dance Theater of Harlem followed by Chanel DaSilva, Director of Move NYC on November 7th.

Dancers are also working throughout the semester with their Guest Artist in Residence, Andrea Weber, former dancer with the Merce Cunningham Dance Company and currently working with the Cunningham Trust.

Performing Arts Outside the Hartt School

  • Sigma Alpha Iota: Eta Mu Chapter, the women’s music fraternity on campus, plans to have an informal recruitment to get to know potential sisters! Sadly, the fraternity will not be having a formal recruitment due to the pandemic. However, if you are interested in joining a tight-knit group of women who share a common interest in music, consider coming out for their informal recruitment to get to know the Eta Mu sisters! If you have any questions, contact the Vice President of Membership, Lydia Martin: [email protected].

    Image Courtesy of Hartt School
  • The UHart A Cappella Coalition plans to host auditions for each of the five groups! These groups include L’Shir A Cappella (co-ed), Hart Attack (co-ed), Treble Threat (co-ed), UHarmonies (treble voices), and Hawkapella (lower voices).  If you are interested in auditioning for any of these groups, follow their social media handles!

Instagram:

  • @lshiracappella
  • @hartattack.acappella
  • @treblethreatacappella
  • @uharmonies
  • @uharthawkapella

 

  • UHart Dramatis Personae plans to air a prerecorded scene/monologue showcase in December in replacement of a mainstage performance! The drama club here on campus is for any student who has an interest in theatre but isn’t necessarily a theatre major. The club also hosts bonding events and fundraisers throughout the year!  If you have any questions, contact [email protected]

 

As a music education and voice performance double major (I’ve said this as an answer to “What is your major?” more times than you can imagine), music is a huge part of my life.  To see that the artistic work is still happening behind the scenes, despite all the craziness happening in the world, is heartwarming.  Please support your UHart artists, whether they be from the Hartt School or outside of it, as much as you can! We need all the support we can get in these unknown times.