By: Sabrina Lee
The University of Illinois’ School of Music hosted their first live performance for the academic year at the Krannert Center for Performing Arts on Friday, May 1st. The event lasted from 11am to 4pm, and consisted of over 20 small ensembles performing back to back.
The players had been preparing these pieces for 2-3 months, according to director of bands Stephen Peterson, these pieces would normally have taken a few weeks. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, band rehearsals have been cut to just 30 minutes, limiting playing time and learning ability. Students often only play a few measures of each piece before moving on to the next one.
“We often just get into the thick of it, and then we have to pack up and leave,” said Peterson, while discussing their edited rehearsal schedules.
Peterson says that the most difficult challenge of navigating the coordination of a band during a global pandemic was the allocation of time. For many of these students, rehearsal was their only in person class, and they spent much of it running between buildings.
“It was hard because our students had to constantly make sure they had building access or they couldn’t rehearse that day,” said Peterson.
The pandemic has also limited their ability to hold recitals and concerts and to show off what they’ve learned.
“Last semester, we were only able to hold a virtual recital that parents could tune into, but it wasn’t the same as a live audience,” said Peterson.
He says that when presented with the opportunity to play for a live audience, not one of their students said no.
“I was thinking of a way for us to have a capstone for this year while being COVID compliant, and I thought hey, why don’t we do it outside?” said Peterson.
The outside amphitheater on the West side of the Krannert Center provided a concert venue complete with food truck, so concert goers could enjoy a bite to eat during the performance.
With many entertainments acts cancelling their shows, the Illinois Band managed to find a way to celebrate their students and their accomplishments in a safe, yet fun way.