The SOU Percussion ensemble had a busy spring term planned with a trip to New York and much more. However, the travel plans had to be adjusted in accordance with the changes with SOU’s guidelines during COVID-19.
Taran McGuire, a senior this year, sees the new situation in a positive light. He states that SOU’s distance learning model is allowing for new creative solutions where all new ideas are welcome. All the students, and faculty, are in the same uncertain situation navigating it together. Students are being challenged to think even more creatively. McGuire is thankful for the SOU IT Department which is providing students with the technology they need. McGuire was able to borrow a much-needed WebCam from SOU IT in order to attend his online courses and collaborate with other musicians in his classes.
McGuire is disappointed that the SOU Percussion Ensembles will not be traveling this term: but he is excited to continue to make music with the ensembles that get posted to the Oregon Center for the Arts (OCA) YouTube Channel, the OCA Facebook page and Instagram by fellow student musician Jade Hails.
Jade Hails is a Masters of Music percussion student. Hails is this year’s Music Director for the Oregon Fringe Festival (OFF), as well as a student performer. OFF, like the rest of the world, had to adapt to the COVID-19 restrictions of no large gatherings, and as a result, converted some OFF student performances and art to online presentations in the form of Fringettes. Hails performed a piece called “Bad Touch” by Casey Cangelosi, and one called “This Too Shall Pass” by Ivan Treviño in the first installment of Fringettes, which made its video premiere on the OCA YouTube Channel. Hails chose to perform Bad Touch to show an example of a performance piece that uses few instruments and a limited amount of music. In Bad Touch, Hails holds drumsticks and plays “air drums” to recorded words and sounds.
Like most OCA students, Hails is looking on the positive side of the situation. As members of the SOU Percussion Ensembles, Hails and McGuire were set to travel to New York to perform at the Bang on a Can Festival. The piece they were going to perform is “Ricefall” by Michael Pisaro; but due to the cancelation of the festival, the SOU Percussion Ensemble premiered the piece on OCA’s YouTube channel. Hails, and the Artistic Director of SOU Percussion Ensembles, Dr. Terry Longshore, were optimistic about debuting the piece on YouTube because of the wider audience reach of a video performance rather than a live performance in New York. Dr. Longshore is looking on the bright side of the distance learning model and is trying to make his online interactions with students as meaningful as possible. He is accomplishing this by creating projects for his students that fit their situations. One project Longshore is excited about is a final project for his Percussion class: having small groups of students create a unique soundtrack for a short silent movie. Longshore wants his students to use creativity to its fullest extent.
While McGuire, Hails, and Longshore all agreed that nothing beats being in a room sharing an artistic performance and experience, they are collectively optimistic and excited about the new opportunities they are experiencing. Nothing will stop SOU’s Percussion Ensemble from having a great time creating music and sharing it with the public in the virtual/online world. Watch “Fringettes”, Michael Pisaro’s “Ricefall”, and many more student performances on the Oregon Center for the Arts YouTube channel. Just go to YouTube.com and type in Oregon Center for the Arts.