By Michael Ahn ’22
Typically, Bellarmine has at least four music groups operating at any given point, sometimes even more. Currently, the music groups part of the official Bellarmine curriculum are: the symphonic band, the jazz ensemble, the chamber orchestra, and percussion. All four groups plan to host some form of performance at one point or another, even under remote conditions. However, there are key differences in the way each group is planning on doing so.
For starters, Percussion groups and the Bellarmine Chamber Orchestra are preparing for virtual performances through a digital platform known as ‘Our Virtual Ensemble.’ Think Microsoft Teams, but customized for musicians and equipped with various teaching & coordination functions. Through this platform, percussion and chamber orchestra would have the option to either have the musicians play in separate locations while coordinating remotely, or have the musicians play in the same location, while the audiences view them from a remote location. Of course, if percussion and orchestra members decide to opt for the latter option and perform in a single setting, they would have to wear masks and adhere to safety precautions during their respective performances. If they plan on performing on a stage, they’d have to widen the spacing of their seats, for example.
However, unlike percussion and the orchestra, the symphonic band and the jazz ensemble will most likely not hold any live performances, especially not in one setting. The reason? The band and the jazz ensemble are both wind groups. To simply play their music, they have to breathe hard and heavy into their instruments at nearly all times. This, of course, would pose a considerable safety threat in closed-environment settings, due to the pandemic. Thus, unfortunately for the band and the jazz ensemble, single-setting live performances are highly unlikely to happen, even after returning to school.
Nonetheless, continual practice is a crucial aspect of a musician’s career. Stop practicing for just a week, or even just a few days, and a musician’s skills would immediately start rusting away. This means that even for the band and the jazz ensemble, letting go of all performances, rehearsals, and practice sessions is not an option. Musicians from each music group are actively training, practicing, and rehearsing with their respective group members during school hours.
On a closing note, what you should take away from this article is that Bell music groups do not quit. No matter the struggle, they never stop practicing and honing their skills. Even now, they’re tirelessly working to prepare virtual performances, so that the Bellarmine community can continue enjoying valuable music.