DUNMORE, Pa. — Following the success of last semester’s virtual Annual Holiday Concert, Penn State Scranton’s music ensembles have gone the online route again for the Annual Spring Concert.
On Tuesday, April 27, and Wednesday, April 28, Director of Music and Associate Teaching Professor of Music Sharon Ann Toman and the Penn State Scranton Chorale, The Roc[k]tet, and Campus Jazz Band recorded the virtual Spring Concert. The program is now being presented as a series of videos at https://sites.psu.edu/pssnspringconcert, where they can be viewed anytime by students, faculty, staff and the general public.
“I hope everyone will enjoy our virtual Annual Spring 2021 Concert and support the efforts of our students who have endured rigorous rehearsals during these times of COVID,” Toman said. “The students have worked so very hard for this recording of the spring concert. I also must note that these students are not music majors and their dedication to our musical groups on campus represent their love of music and the extraordinary quality of their performance.”
Just like the holiday concert, the spring concert was recorded in the Sherbine Lounge, where Toman and the students have spent the duration of the semester rehearsing. And, once again, Toman collaborated closely with the campus Information Technology department — Instructional Designer Griff Lewis designed the concert website, while IT Support Specialist Jeremy Palko recorded the performances.
The concert features an eclectic assortment of beloved songs, from Broadway showtunes (“I Dreamed a Dream” from “Les Misérables,” “One” from “A Chorus Line”) and movie soundtrack favorites (“A Million Dreams” from “The Greatest Showman,” “Hallelujah” from “Shrek”) to pop standards (Frank Sinatra’s “Fly Me to the Moon”) and classic rock staples (Bon Jovi’s “Livin’ on a Prayer,” Chicago’s “25 or 6 to 4,” and Van Morrison’s “Brown Eyed Girl”).
Feedback for the holiday concert was overwhelmingly positive, so Toman is expecting good results this time out, too.
“I never thought that so many people would watch a virtual concert, but they did!” Toman said. “I received many compliments on our video recording and many people provided such supportive comments. That made the students so proud of themselves.”
Just as in the fall, Toman and the students held regular in-person rehearsals throughout the spring semester, with strict safety protocols put in place to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, including constant mask wearing, social distancing, and even placing masks on the bells of the wind instruments. In addition, Toman routinely reminded students that if they didn’t feel well, they should stay home and make arrangements to get a COVID-19 test.
This semester, rehearsals were moved from Dawson 220, which could only hold 14 students at a time, to the Sherbine Lounge, which could safely accommodate the members of all three ensembles, Toman said.
“The students are so willing to follow the COVID safety procedures, and this semester was much easier, as the students have grown accustomed to these new rehearsal safety procedures,” Toman said. “They have really enjoyed rehearsing together as it gave them some sense of normalcy to campus life and their musical life, too.”
Toman said the virtual spring concert was done with the same level of detail and preparation as it would have been if performed before a live audience. Unlike the holiday concert, this show features several vocal soloists, so to ensure the singers’ masks didn’t interfere with the sound quality, Toman collaborated with IT on the use of a sound system.
While Toman was happy to produce another virtual concert, she said she can’t help but look ahead to when the student ensembles will be able to perform for live audiences again. In fact, next year’s Annual Spring Concert is already scheduled to take place at Scranton’s Theater at North at 4 p.m. on Saturday, April 23, 2022.
“I believe little by little live performances will return,” Toman said. “All performers — musicians, actors, Broadway Shows, New York, Las Vegas and other entertainment venues — can’t wait to return to live audiences. It is nice to perform a virtual concert in a controlled atmosphere during these times of COVID, but there’s nothing like performing in front of a live audience.”
For more information on Penn State Scranton’s Music program, visit https://scranton.psu.edu/academics/special-programs/music-program.