College of Performing Arts Will Livestream All Performances for the Fall Semester

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Breath, A Samuel Beckett Festival, is a former Rowan production. With the pandemic, these performances will be hosted by virtual live stream. - Photo via Kevin Monko

For anyone who has been missing live music, dance and theater, the College of Performing Arts has you covered. The COVID-19 pandemic has put a hold on live performances in front of large crowds, but that has not stopped artists from doing what they love. The College of Performing Arts has begun scheduling an array of live shows for the 2020/2021 season that can be viewed virtually from home for free (although registration is required in advance). There is a current list of upcoming livestreamed shows, and new events will be added as time goes on.

Debbie Shapiro, director of community engagement and presenting for the College of Performing Arts, said, “It’s exciting to me that we’ve been able to pull together livestreaming from Pfleeger Concert Hall and Boyd Recital Hall so quickly and safely. While our performance series is not quite as packed as it would have been before the pandemic, I’m very impressed with the concerts and productions that the faculty and students of the Departments of Music and Theatre & Dance are pulling together.”

The first of these performances was a concert purely of string instruments, held on Oct. 20, entitled “War and Peace: Rowan University Symphony Orchestra Virtual Concert,” which featured works from renowned composers including Walker, Shostakovich and Mozart.

This concert also introduced a new conductor, Jian-Nan Cheng, who shared that she and the orchestra sought to use the emotional compositions “to resonate with the current struggle for social justice, and stand together with those who are fighting for diversity, equity and inclusion.” The concert was livestreamed from Pfleeger Concert Hall, and, according to Cheng, the musicians on the stage were wearing masks and playing from safe distances. While in-person attendance was allowed, the show was of course available to audiences at home.

In early November, a pair of virtual livestreams and classes will be presented by the musicians of Eighth Blackbird. The first will be a virtual masterclass on Nov. 6, during which the members will engage in Rowan students’ performances and offer their insights. On Nov. 7 you will have a chance to attend a “virtual lecture-demonstration and Q&A,” according to the College of Performing Arts, which will showcase Eighth Blackbird leaders Matthew Duvall and Lisa Kaplan, who will be sharing their experiences in their musical success and how they have been faring in quarantine.

On Dec. 3 through 6, the Department of Theatre & Dance will be sharing a video dance production, “Small Gifts,” meant to inspire hope and peace during the COVID-19 pandemic and the Black Lives Matter movement. Director and choreographer Melanie Stewart said, “It is from this research and creative activity that we offer ‘Small Gifts,’” explaining how the performers obtained their inspiration; they shared their experiences during quarantine with each other and studied photos from protests to inspire their dancing, costumes and setting. “Together we have discovered that in our own bodies we can embrace our humanness, our need to move and our personal freedom,” Stewart said.

David Cimetta, videographer for “Small Gifts,” appreciated working on the performance from a technical standpoint. Without a live audience being physically in the room, he said, “I have the unique opportunity to capture the artists in ways we’ve never been afforded in the past. Using multiple cameras and an elaborate microphone array, our goal is to convey the feeling of immersion in the work and intimacy with the performers, an experience that sitting in an audience simply can’t provide.”

These are merely the highlights of what the College of Performing Arts has in store for the rest of this semester. Hopefully these virtual shows will spread joy to not only Rowan University students but to the entire artistic community. Shapiro also offered us a tease regarding the future of these performances: “We’ll have a very exciting surprise announcement to make for the spring as well, so that is definitely something to look out for.”

Click here for the full schedule of upcoming performances.

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