Music Ensembles/groups work out changes for upcoming semester due to pandemic

Across campus, departments and clubs have been forced to adapt to physical distancing and other health protocols. Allegheny’s Music Department and other musical clubs are working to find new ways to perform at a distance.

While smaller chamber ensembles have already been canceled for the Fall 2020 semester, other larger ensembles are still taking place with proper social distancing and safety measures in place, according to Associate Professor of Music and String Coordinator Jennifer Dearden.

“All our large ensembles are still happening, but those will all have some significant changes built in to allow for physical distancing and other health safety issues, and we will not put on any public concerts this coming semester,” Dearden said in an email to The Campus. “The chamber ensembles … are canceled for the fall.”

Other music and dance organizations and clubs on campus, such as Orchesis Dance Company also are forced to practice and perform differently this year due to COVID-19.

Orchesis was unavailable for comment.

Associate Professor of Music and Director of Choral Activities James Niblock said that while performances are not happening in the upcoming semester, vocal lessons will still be held virtually, along with some choir practices.

“There is some uncertainty about the possibility of aerosol transmission through singing,” Niblock said.

Niblock explained that doctors and scientists believe singing can help to transmit COVID-19. He added that they have warned against singing in large groups, and that aerosol stays in the air for long periods of time and that singing creates a large amount of aerosol.

“When someone sings, they have a larger inhale and exhale, and therefore a larger chance of transmitting aerosol that exists in people’s lungs into the air,” Niblock said. “This leads to a greater chance of being able to spread the virus.”

Additionally, according to Niblock, there is still potential for virtual performances in the upcoming semester, just not in the auditorium to a live audience.

“We are hoping to perform in one way or another,” Niblock said. “We will continue to have certain ensembles and lessons virtually, and we hope to be able to figure out a way to have some sort of virtual or recorded performance during the semester.”

Niblock added that there is a group “ironing out the details” of events for the music department.

“There are new health concerns every week during this pandemic,” Niblock said. “But the point of this group is to find new pathways and rethink events to find a way that we can still have music events in some way this year.”