Arts & Culture

Enjoy UK Classroom Concerts From the Safety of Your Couch

UK's Symphony Band and Wind Symphony present the Parents Day Concert, part of the Classroom Concert Series.

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Oct. 21, 2020) After months of quiet, University of Kentucky’s Singletary Center for the Arts is silent no more.

Each school year, Singletary Center is home to around 200 recitals and concerts featuring UK School of Music’s talented students, chamber groups, ensembles and faculty. But that changed last spring almost two months before the end of the season — and semester — as the COVID-19 pandemic made its way to Kentucky.

Still today, artists and performing arts venues around the globe are grappling with the question of how to bring their work to the stage while maintaining a healthy environment for not only audiences, but also the performers.

UK School of Music is not immune to this issue. And, add to that desire to produce work and the opportunity to raise funds for programs, the delivery of the academic component central to its collegiate mission to educate young artists who have to have not only opportunities to learn and practice, but also perform.

“There are many reasons why ensemble experiences are crucial components of a musical education,” said Stanley Pelkey, director of the UK School of Music. “Beyond the sheer joy that can come from making music together, music majors hone their skills as performers, learn important musical repertoire, develop collaborative relationships, and observe rehearsal techniques — which many will use in their own careers as ensemble directors — through their collegiate ensemble experiences.”

To answer these needs UK School of Music recently launched its Classroom Concert Series with UK Symphony Band and UK Wind Symphony’s Parents Day Concert. The series of approximately 35 free virtual concerts brings the schools ensembles off the Singletary stages and into your living room. The concerts will not only satisfy the students' desire to perform, but also help the school maintain a relationship with its faithful audience and the community at large by providing a quality and healthy entertainment option during a global pandemic.

Pelkey explained, “It seemed necessary to find ways to continue to connect to our audiences, despite the pandemic.

“At the same time, a century of social and technological change has put pressure on arts organizations to consider how to use technology, whether video recording or livestreaming, to connect with and build new audiences. We have an opportunity to try out some new approaches that could become the basis for further, intentional curricular development in music entrepreneurship, arts management, audio engineering and music technology broadly.”

What some audience members may not understand is the classroom space itself offers a great opportunity to hear UK students. Each ensemble a student may be selected for is itself a course at UK, and rehearsal is just a day of class. So, this series gives audiences not only an opportunity to hear a beautiful concert virtually but also the chance to sit in on a class in such areas as choir, wind symphony or jazz as those concerts are recorded.  

To make the Classroom Concert Series possible, as well as film and provide them to an online audience, the Singletary Center staff’s workload has had some modifications.

"The work of the Singletary Center staff has changed significantly this year, but the core of our efforts remains the same — to support the students, faculty and performers in the College of Fine Arts in their quest to hone their artistic skills and to connect their artistry with audiences,” Singletary Center Director of Operations Matt Gibson said. “Despite the look of our event calendar, our halls are anything but empty and silent.”

To watch the Parents Day Concert featuring UK’s Symphony Band and Wind Symphony, visit https://vimeo.com/466332459.

As concerts from the Classroom Concert Series are completed, they will be uploaded to Vimeo throughout the rest of the semester. To find this series of concerts, visit: https://finearts.uky.edu/news/music/classroom-concert-series#videos.

The UK School of Music in the UK College of Fine Arts has garnered national recognition for high-caliber education in opera, choral and instrumental music performance, as well as music education, music therapy, composition, and theory and music history.

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photo of masked Professor Benjamin Karp playing with 2 student musicians
photo of video camera recording in Singletary Center

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