On Tuesday, March 9, 2021, West Texas concert band A&M University had their first gig in over a year. The concert was conducted by Russ Teweleit, associate professor of music and associate director of orchestras. The concert also featured two visiting student conductors, Allen Daniel and Caitlin Gallaher, both graduates in music education. The concert held a live audience in the seats, but also provided live video of the performance on Facebook. The concert lasted about 35 minutes.
âThe play I conducted was called ‘Chasing Sunlight’ by Cait Nishimura. It was one of the funniest and most rewarding opportunities I have had throughout my college career, âsaid Gallahher. âWhile I was conducting my piece for the concert, I felt completely elated. At one point, I looked around the concert hall and felt so proud of myself and my colleagues.
Symphony and concert orchestras had to change their practice methods during the pandemic. Practice for a concert should be done in small groups at a time under a time constraint. Orchestras should follow a schedule to allow the air from the ensemble rooms and the orchestra hall to air before the next group or class arrives.
âMasks must be worn at all times, except when we are playing. Some instruments wear a bell mask. Setting up rehearsals is socially distanced, âsaid Diego Romero, a sophomore flute student. âThe setting up of the rehearsals is socially distanced, in a square, which means that for the moment, we cannot play in a concert arch. The rehearsals were divided into sections, woodwinds, brass and percussion.
Aside from the change in routines, the band had to cancel last spring’s concert and play it instead this semester. Dr. Teweleit decided to continue practicing the pieces from the canceled concert instead of choosing new pieces.
âIt was a little frustrating to be honest. When the lockdown started, the world was literally shutting down and everyone was afraid of how things were going to turn out. But from a security point of view, it was the best decision taken, âRomero said.
The music school also had to cancel performances of other ensemble groups and have strict rules for those who perform recitals.
âEverything that took place after spring break last year has been canceled. This includes our large ensemble concerts, as well as small ensembles like brass choirs and jazz bands, âsaid Gallaher.
Despite previous setbacks, the concert group was given the green light to perform for their first spring concert. The students and teachers of the music school were happy to find a sense of normalcy in their lives.
âIt was actually really great to finally be able to play. Of course I mean that’s why we do what we do. So it was amazing to be able to do that. And despite not having a live audience, it was just as rewarding, âTeweleit said. âAfterwards, in fact, I still feel, I don’t know, more proud of what we have finally been able to do. And seeing the response, I think, was really encouraging.
Concert and symphony groups look forward to having their year-end concerts on April 28, 2021 at Mary Moody Northen Hall. Official concert details will be available soon.