A Year of Musical Connection: Honors Recital Performers Look Back at the 20-21 School Year
This past academic year has been one full of change. When the pandemic first started shutting down businesses and schools, many students—including myself— wondered how we were going to continue our education. Finishing our spring 2020 semester fully remote was an abrupt change that was challenging, especially for musicians. Gone were the frequent rehearsals and in-person lessons. Our bustling concert season was halted in its tracks. Even just hearing each other online felt unfamiliar and uncomfortable. However, we were still able to adapt, with some students and faculty performing virtual concerts and recitals for the rest of the community. For the rest of us, this was a time to push ahead in our studies as we learned to adapt to the new normal.
When this past fall semester approached, I was not optimistic. The universities that had started before Carthage were already facing giant spikes of cases and many of them had already switched to completely virtual instruction. I was unsure of how concerts and rehearsals would go considering all the new social distancing guidelines that we had to implement. Frankly, I was not even confident that we would make it to the end of the semester, much less thrive in it. Luckily, I was completely wrong. While there were plenty of challenges and compromises, we were able to work together and adapt as a Music Department and as a college. From the faculty fully reworking their teaching styles and courses to better suit are new learning environment to the students who continued to work together and perform in a safe manner, the Music Department emerged as strong as ever.
During this past semester, these successes have only grown. Our audience has increased as more members of our community are allowed to attend our concerts while our livestreams allow us to reach even more people than we could in person. For Azniv Khaligian ’22, these intimate gatherings combined with the livestreaming opportunities allowed her to relish any performance she had.
“Having live performances taken away during the early months of the pandemic has made performing for any audience cathartic,” said Khaligian ’22, “Even with the social distancing guidelines, my junior recital represented a culmination of my efforts over the past year just as well as any other recital. I believe that this recital was even more impactful, as it reminds the community that we are still pushing forward regardless of the circumstances. By facing these unpredictable challenges, Carthage has come together as a community.”
One of the best parts of this past semester has been seeing our concert halls welcome more and more people. For students such as Morgan Taylor ’21 and myself, having our families be able to watch our respective recitals in person was a joy that I did not think we would be able to experience this year. We have also been able to learn through various guest artists through in-person masterclasses and concerts through the Performing Arts Series. This does not even account for the numerous virtual masterclasses and guest lectures we have had through the hard work of various faculty members and the Aspire Center.
While this past year has showcased Carthage’s ability to adapt and thrive in unfamiliar circumstances, there were still plenty of challenges. Managing spaces and accommodating different teaching formats pushed everyone in new and unexpected directions. Even just the permeating fears and stressors surrounding the pandemic weighed down on all of us. Yet even as we struggled through these difficulties, our community regularly finds silver linings. For Morgan Taylor ’21, those came in the changes of reserving rehearsal spaces.
“A silver lining with the new protocols is our new system for signing out practice rooms,” said Taylor, “That is one thing I could see sticking around in the future.”
Regardless of the challenges we have faced, we have used music to come together. From showcasing student achievement in the Honors Recital to putting on casual performances Campbell Student Union, we have used music as the glue keeping us connected. The Music Department still has plenty to offer both students and the community over the upcoming months. From student recitals to collaborations with guest artists, there will be something for everyone to enjoy. For now, this year has showed that no matter what happens, Carthage will find a way to move forward.