By Emerson Brown, Opinion Editor
// As lockdowns persist, schools teach online, and offices remain closed, everyone is faced with the continuing burden of the COVID-19 pandemic. Ensemble musicians are faced with a challenge other groups are feeling as well: the necessity for in-person gatherings. Neither concerts nor rehearsals can take place, putting a unique burden on this sector of education and entertainment.
Acalanes High School instrumental music teacher Lauren Gibson organized a virtual spring concert that premiered at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, May 20 on YouTube, which included student performances, senior recognitions, and a slideshow.
The concert had three main musical portions. The first was a virtual ensemble piece in which each student played their individual part as they would in class, and then Gibson aligned each part to create a sound as if the ensemble was playing together in person.
“I took each video, extracted the audio… I then lined up each video with a click track, which was taken out for the final product, and other tracks,” Gibson said about how she put the pieces together.
The concert in its entirety took about 60 hours of work.
“The editing process is pretty lengthy and for all four ensembles took about 40 hours total,” Gibson said regarding the virtual ensembles. The additional 20 hours came from Gibson’s work editing the video portions and senior shoutouts.
The second main musical part was small chamber ensembles that students put together themselves. Gibson assigned these multitrack projects to the students to engage them during distance learning. Although the students used varying methods to put their projects together, many were similar to the technique that Gibson used for the larger virtual ensembles.
For both parts, there were issues in putting together components that were not recorded together in-person.
“The volume of each track had to be adjusted and panned to allow for an end product that would sound similar to what a real ensemble would sound like,” Gibson said.
The third main musical section was a recording of each ensemble from the winter concert that took place in December.
The full concert was not solely music; Gibson mentioned each senior instrumental musician and talked about them and their contributions to their respective ensembles.
The concert concluded with a slideshow of compiled photos and videos from this school year. Parents and students sent in photos of both organized music events and small get-togethers that instrumental students had been a part of outside of school.
Many musicians found rehearsing to be an integral portion of the music experience in high school and in an ensemble. Without the ability to review measures or practice together, musicians could not react to their fellow musicians to make the ensemble sound coherent and musical.
“Having real-time communication is key to beautiful music. For example, many musicians are constantly listening to themselves and everyone around them to be sure they’re in tune and in time,” sophomore and flute and bassoon player Autumn Long said.
Most students were appreciative of the opportunity to virtually create music as a way to see their peers, connect with Gibson, and say a final farewell to the seniors.
“I miss playing with my fellow classmates the most. It’s really incredible to play as a unit and have all the classes’ hard work pay off,” senior and cello player Haase said.
Although many students find quarantine to be difficult, most value Acalanes’ efforts to bring the community together.
“I am definitely far more appreciative of my community’s efforts to keep spirits lifted than disappointed about not being able to graduate in person. It’s really made me thankful to be an Acalanes student,” Haase said.
Watch the recap below!
Click here to watch the complete concert!