On March 23, we began a new era. Our entire educational mission moved online. Students, faculty and staff have new limitations placed on their interactions, lectures and lessons, rehearsals and performances. This is true not only for USC Thornton, but for music schools and conservatories across the world, and for the profession of music in general.
USC Thornton students, faculty and alumni have offered such creativity in responding to our current circumstances, from finding new and inventive ways to share their musical talents to discovering different ways to carry on teaching the remainder of the spring semester. The show must go on, and it will.
Concerts everywhere have been canceled, but the show must go on. As venues around the world go dark, USC Thornton has launched a series of performances by USC Thornton students, alumni, and faculty, live from…somewhere. Living rooms, offices, back patios, garages—wherever they may be.
This series has been a celebrated first response to the cancellation of events, an online performance series dictated by guidelines that require students to adhere to social distancing.
“This performance series has been a welcome gesture to the Thornton community and audience,” said Robert Cutietta, Dean of USC Thornton. “The students and alumni have shown such creativity in their videos.”
Students have been excited and inspired by some of these new opportunities to perform, however, performing music over a video-conferencing platform does propose its own set of challenges.
Imagine sitting in a room with a chamber music quartet performing a Mozart string quartet. You can catch every nuance of tone, texture, dynamics and articulation in the musicians’ playing. You can hear and see the musicians in full color.
Now adjust the picture. Everyone is in a different location, seeing and hearing each other on a video-conferencing platform. The listener has to mute all but one player at a time. The sound, filtered and transmitted through an electronic device, is less vivid and clear. It’s definitely not the same Mozart string quartet—it’s not even accurate to call it a quartet.
Now you understand one of the biggest challenges facing the USC Thornton School of Music after COVID-19 forced classes to go online. How do professors continue to teach music when they and their students are required to shelter in place and engage in physical distancing? Thornton faculty and students are continuing to work together, coming up with new and creative ways to adjust to this new (and hopefully temporary) normal.
“What is most gratifying is to witness the enthusiasm that our faculty and students bring to this experiment. Especially given the worrisome conditions brought about by this pandemic, you can’t help but admire the spirit of our community in helping each other through the crisis.” —Dan Carlin, chair of the Screen Scoring program and vice dean of the Division of Contemporary Music
Every gift, no matter the size, directly impacts the lives of our students, faculty and staff -- not just at Thornton but across the entire University. It ensures that our students have the resources they need to continue their education during this unprecedented time.
Gifts made directly to Thornton can help us to provide students with instruments and other necessities needed to continue their musical education online. In moments of great change, it is artists who step forward and offer a glimpse of our possibilities. Together, we can make a lasting impact that will forever change the landscape for the USC Thornton School of Music, the community and the world of music.