San Jacinto College music programs take their talents online

Nov 30, 2020Melissa Trevizo

The San Jacinto College Central Campus music program hosted two livestreamed concerts for the first time in the program's history this year, thanks to the restrictions of COVID-19.

"We have always wanted to livestream our concerts but have never been able to embark on the project until this year," said Lynne Brandt, department chair, music and audio engineering. "It has been quite a learning experience, but I'm looking forward to continuing in the future."

To host a livestreamed music concert, Brandt — with help of Niki Whiteside, assistant vice chancellor of instruction innovation and support for the College — had to navigate the copyright process.

"We learned that the publisher of musical pieces doesn't always hold the copyright, and it was our job to investigate who owned the rights to each piece," Brandt said. "We also had to agree that the concert would truly be livestreamed and not replicated or available for view later."

Aside from her crash course in copyright law, Brandt also had to navigate the logistics of putting on a socially-distant livestream. Not only did she involve the information technology professionals at the College and the audio engineering program to ensure that the audio and technical aspects were in place, but she had to make sure students and faculty were following COVID-19 safety protocols.

"As an institution we have streamed graduations and speeches, but a concert required special microphones and mixing boards," said Brandt. "Thankfully, Les Williams, our audio engineering instructor, volunteered his time to get it just right."

During the concerts, one of the groups, the San Jacinto College Choir, was so large that singers had to be creative to remain socially distant.

"During our choir concert we had two groups perform: a smaller chamber choir, who were able to social-distance themselves on stage, and our large choir who had to perform from the seats of the auditorium to be properly spread out," said Brandt.

The students had been preparing for months, coming to campus about once a week with their hybrid courses to rehearse and participating in online sectional practice.

"Each of our groups — the chamber, large choir, guitar, and strings — has been working so hard on their pieces," Brandt said. "We were honored to provide them a way to share that hard work with their friends, families, and the community."

The music program also hosted a virtual concert for its Orpheus group, which includes student composers charged to create original music and perform it later in the semester. This year the Orpheus program recorded each composer and interviewed them about their creative process.

"Streaming our concerts online has given us a brand-new way to share our program with new audiences," Brandt said. "It is great for community outreach and for recruiting. Even outside of the pandemic, it is a great tool for people to have access to the concerts."