A New Hope: Force and Fearlessness in the Patio Pops Concert
By Haley Aichholzer ’21
Last weekend, I was lucky enough to virtually attend the Patio Pops Concert, performed by the Wind Orchestra and Concert Band, under the direction of Professor James Ripley. This year has invited all of us to experience life in different ways and so, rather than attending the concert in-person, I decided to attend it virtually. From the comfort of my bed, I flipped open my computer and clicked onto the Carthage Livestream, which took me right to a video of the A. F. Siebert Chapel where the concert was taking place. I was intrigued to see everyone, the Concert Band, Wind Orchestra, and audience, in the chapel, separated by six feet, filling the room with a sea of curious eyes and talented students.
Prof. Ripley opened the performance with welcoming words, saying that “It is in community that we move forward together.” His excitement and sense of understanding for us all brought wonder and joy to everyone; those watching from the chapel and from home. The first piece of the night, listed on the screen as “Swirling Bells,” by David Godbold ’16, matched Prof. Ripley’s words in its emotion and delicate sound. As the instruments played, they radiated through the chapel and through the walls of my dorm to create an instant moment of peace and eagerness for the rest of the performance.
Then began the main segment of the concert, a plethora of songs and music from the Star Wars saga. Prof. Ripley introduced the historic series, with an explanation of the movies, which helped bring everyone into the story, whether they had previously watched the movies or not. Right as Prof. Ripley stopped speaking, my screen changed, to reveal the words that Dr. Ripley had spoken come alive on my screen, in the same fashion they do at the beginning of the actual Star Wars movies. This moment was incredibly emotional, as it made me feel like I was a kid again, listening to the unforgettable music of Star Wars. Even better, it was being played by my incredibly talented peers, who showcased the true art of music and performance.
I was mesmerized by the music and how it soared through the chapel and into my screen, making me feel like I was in the same room with the performers. The accuracy and clarity of the songs were mind-blowing and brought so much emotion to the environment.
The array of songs combined so many worlds; the world of Star Wars, and Carthage, and the audience, both in-person and at home. Although I love being able to share these experiences from my point of view, I thought that it would be great to get some feedback from the director of the performance, Prof. Ripley. I asked Prof. Ripley how he felt about the show and what was successful:
“It is always fun for us to start the year with both bands playing together, but so much more so this year as most everyone had not been involved in making music as a group since March. Having impactful music such as the Star Wars selections to play really allowed everyone to connect with their emotions and enjoy playing again. We wanted to be very cautious in our protocols for safe playing, and the students have been 100 percent committed to following those rules. Because of those, and the college’s overall strategies, I feel quite safe in our rehearsals and performances.”
I also wanted to know if there were any challenges that arose in this new environment of performance. Prof. Ripley explained that, “Our biggest challenge for the concert was simply that it became too windy for us to play outdoors. About 20 minutes before the concert started, the wind came up, and the music stands fell down! However, the band, event staff, and production team got everything ready to go inside the chapel and we were ready to start just five minutes later than scheduled.”
As shown by the exciting new set up of the concert and all of the work put in by the Carthage Fine Arts Department, Prof. Ripley, the Concert Band, and the Wind Orchestra, these performances take a lot of time, new ideas, and collaboration. However, everyone who has put in their effort to ensure success in these shows demonstrates the amazing possibilities that exist in the arts, even in the most trying times.