On January 24th, the George School community came together to enjoy a small reprieve from the pandemic through music. The Winter Instrumental Concert was made possible because of the meticulous planning by music faculty, David Nolan.
David started the concert by welcoming the streaming audience to the “first and hopefully, last virtual Winter Instrumental Concert.” He continued to describe the countless hours of work the musicians put in to learn the music alone at home, a big difference from a classroom environment. “Creating a cohesive narrative from isolation is no easy feat.”
“The String Ensemble and Wind Ensemble are just like regular classes at George School,” David explained. “For most of the year, they met with me online three times a week for three weeks. Then I saw most of them in person one time a week for three weeks. This follows the special schedule we had this year.”
The concert featured three performances: woodwinds, strings, and a collaboration between both ensembles, respectively. Harp soloist, Aqua Withers ’21 also accompanied the ensembles in the last performance of The Nutcracker. The recorded performances were compiled from videos that each student sent in. David created a backing track for students to listen to and play along with to help them line up with one another. Every recording was made by each student on their own.
Audience members were encouraged to ask questions through a Google form throughout the concert, making the streaming event interactive. “Music is a performing art. There is a conversation that happens in a live performance, and this recording meant we lost out on that.” David explained. “I wanted the audience to get a chance to peek behind the production curtain and get an idea of what it takes to pull something like this off. I am a fan of critiques and this was a fun way to combine both of those points.”
After the recorded performances, a few students joined David in answering some of the questions live. One person asked, “What do you have a new appreciation for or new dislike of?”
Ankita Achanta ’23 replied, “I definitely have a new appreciation for playing solo verses playing in an orchestra because when we had to do these recordings, we were by ourselves. But playing solo by yourself when it is for an orchestra is kind of a weird feeling, so I have a new appreciate for that.”
“Many of my students were very proud of our collective success,” David said. “A small minority found it hard to watch themselves on video.“
We are also extremely proud of the students’ hard work and we think they looked great. You can watch the performance and learn more about the event here.