It’s no question that one of the biggest areas of entertainment affected by the coronavirus pandemic is music, specifically live performances. A normal weekend on AU’s campus consists of some kind of music performance, whether it’s a choir, a musical theater performance or a group performance in Mocha Joe’s.
As students travel back to campus for the first time since March, the School of Music, Theater and Dance is working diligently to make these performances happen in a safe way for every student. AU has released a singing policy that states how they will execute the performances.
The policy’s general procedures state how to have rehearsals and performances outdoors. Some general procedures include all participants and audience wearing a mask at all times, maintaining six feet of distance following CDC guidelines and singing gatherings lasting no more than 30 minutes indoors.
With any performance, rehearsal or worship service, it is recommended that it is taking place outdoors. It is still mandatory to maintain six feet of distance at any event outdoors as well as being masked at all times.
Dr. Jeffrey Wright, dean of the School of Music, Theater and Dance, said that all faculty have been keeping up with national organizations that have completed comprehensive research and have published guidelines for performing organizations.
“These guidelines differ slightly between choral, instrumental, theatre and musical theatre performances, but all of them recommend performing in small ensembles rather than large ensembles, wearing masks, (for wind instruments there are masks with slits for mouthpieces), rehearsing in large spaces that allow for social distancing and rehearsing outside when it’s possible to do so,” Wright said.
Women’s Chorus and other ensembles will be rehearsing in a tent near the prayer labyrinth as well as in the Fine Arts breezeway. Every student in the ensemble will be distanced and will be required to wear a mask. There will also be alternate days where the group may meet as a whole or in smaller groups.
While all of these are big changes that will bring challenges, he said that the faculty is working hard to create other locations and ways for performances to happen.
“We hope that some of our small ensembles will be able to perform outside this fall while the weather permits,” Wright said. “We’re also partnering with the Communications Department to film some of our performances so they can be viewed on Facebook and YouTube.”
He also said that guest artists will still be able to come perform in York Performance Hall, but the execution of the event will be adapted just like the other events.
“We will have a few performances by guest artists this fall, but we will not have a live audience for them,” Wright said. “We’re able to livestream those performances from York Hall, so we will invite people to enjoy the performances from the safety of their home.”