The first virtual holiday concert in DGS history

DGS Fine Arts is celebrating the holidays online this year.

Gwendolynne Royle

DGS Fine Arts is celebrating the holidays online this year.

Gwendolynne Royle, Opinions Editor

Dec. 17, DGS will be making history with the first ever virtual holiday concert at DGS. The concert will feature the DGS choirs, the DGS bands and the Community District 99 orchestra. Students and teachers alike are extremely excited to show the community what they have accomplished over the last month.

The concert will be streaming on the DGS Fine Arts YouTube channel at 7 p.m. Thursday evening.

The holiday concert is a long held tradition at DGS. Many generations of students have experienced the joy and stress of creating a concert for the community to enjoy. Junior Jordan Stewart reflects on what aspects of the in-person concert she will miss this year.

“ I [will] miss the atmosphere the holiday concert creates the most. It’s really hard to describe, but it’s become such a tradition that it doesn’t feel like the holidays without it. It’s especially hard when you can’t see your friends or amazing teachers,” Stewart said.

For students it has been really easy to dote on the fact that we aren’t in-person, but junior Olivia Roti points out the silver lining in these grey clouds.

“These circumstances are historic and I think it’s great that we are still able to make music in some way despite the pandemic. It’s something we’ll always be able to come back to and remember everything that has happened this year,” Roti said.

This year has been especially hard on the fine art department. Every teacher has had to learn new ways of connecting with their students. Fine arts thrive when communities are brought together, which orchestra conductor Jennifer Mullen says is hard to do over the computer.

“I cannot hear my students as they practice all the time, and so it is more important than ever that I know the music really well, and I’m able to anticipate the challenges that my students might have with learning the music, and teach to those challenges,” Mullen says.

These feelings of stress are corroborated by choir conductor Joy Belt:

“The biggest hurdle was the technology. For a three minute choir song, there will be at least 25 HOURS of audio/video editing that will go into making that one song,” Belt said.

Mullen went on to talk about the process of creating the virtual concert. The orchestra used recordings that professional musicians also use when learning to play pieces. She expressed her excitement about the unique learning experience her students are receiving.

Mullen also talked about how the actual music was affected by having to piece it together online.

“Making music virtually, unfortunately, requires that we take out some of the organic emotion of the music – slowing down sections (rubato) here and there for emotional impact does not really work when you are trying to have 120 musicians sync up to a single recording,” Mullen said.

Lastly, Mullen said that she understood the struggles her students are facing. She said having to play online requires her students to become individual musicians in a way they haven’t had to in previous years.

“Seeing my students persevere as musicians – even when making music during this time likely creates more anxiety and offers less immediate gratification – is something that makes me profoundly proud of my students,” Mullen said.

Both Belt and Mullen expressed how important music is to them and how grateful they were that they had students who were willing to learn with them.

“Singing connects us at our deepest human level. We need connection now more than ever. I am excited that we have continued to build community in this time of constant loss and struggle,” Belt said.