features

A Festival of Concerts, Interviews with Prof. Allegra Martin and singer Meghan DiMercurio ‘23

Grace Bromage ‘23

Chief Features Editor

On Friday, December 4th, the Holy Cross concert choir, chamber singers, orchestra, and wind ensemble will be performing their annual fall choir virtually, titled “A Festival of Concerts.”

I spoke to Professor Allegra Martin, the director of college choirs and interim director of the orchestra, about her experience preparing this concert virtually. Martin told me about the practicing process which entailed Zoom meetings twice a week. A challenge of this was “a time lag when connecting over the internet … every musician except one has to be muted.” One way she tried to work around this was to send the Chamber Singers and Orchestra into break out rooms, saying “I tried to experiment with different formats to keep things fresh.”

Prof. Martin did mention the positives about this semester, saying that a “fun twist is that musicians can record more than one part for a performance. Some players in the Orchestra and all of the singers in Chamber Singers performed more than one part for some or all of the pieces.” Martin also mentioned that this virtual format allowed the ensembles to play with visuals, utilizing videos as well as student photography and meaningful slide shows. The music department was also able to invest in SoundTrap which allowed students to record themselves singing. Martin said “I get to listen to every musician individually. Some of our singers and players are really amazing! I feel very humbled and proud listening to them.”

Graphic design by Olivia Lynch ’24

Prof. Martin’s parting words were “these virtual projects were only possible because of Prof. Brian Saia, the audio engineer on the music faculty” and that Holy Cross community members should know “how hard the students worked. … I required everyone to record every week, which is really emotionally intense work. When you see the concert, please know that the students put in a huge amount of work behind the scenes to pull together these musical projects.” She commented that she is proud of “all the musicians for diving in and going along with this crazy semester … I’m particularly proud of the first-year students. …I can only imagine how intimidating it is to join an ensemble virtually, but they have been consistently cheerful about the whole experience.”

I also spoke with Meghan DiMercurio ’23, a member of the college choir, about her experience this semester. DiMercurio said “I miss rushing to Hogan twice a week and being able to joke around with my friends throughout rehearsal. I also miss a lot about the in person performing aspect. Seeing the audience and feeling the nervous jitters right before a song just can’t be recreated over zoom. However, I am getting to know more people now than in person because of our weekly breakout rooms.”

DiMercurio is “so excited for people to see how we have taken this unique virtual experience and really taken it into our stride. Every person in choir has been so positive about the virtual experience and people will be able to hear it in our voices as we perform each piece. Professor Martin chose pieces that people could really relate to during this unprecedented time. I think anyone who attends our concerts will leave with a sense of peace and community.”

DiMercurio’s parting words were “I want the Holy Cross community to know that the experience of virtual choir has been incredible mainly because of the people … I can speak for all of us when I say that we have all been able to bond in a unique way and we have all become a lot closer. Choir is more than the music, it’s the people.”To see the work that Prof. Martin, Prof. Jaskot, Meghan DiMercurio, and all the other Holy Cross musicians put into the concerts, tune in at 7:00 pm on Friday, December 4th. For information on the performance order, songs being performed, and attendance, visit https://www.holycross.edu/academics/programs/music/concerts-and-events.

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