Despite the challenges that come with the current pandemic, students were able to showcase their hard work in Carthage’s socially-distant recitals.

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Distant music: A look back at the semester of socially-distant recitals

By William Dowell ’21

December 15, 2020

Despite the challenges that come with the current pandemic, students were able to showcase their hard work in Carthage’s socially-distant recitals. With approval from the Kenosha Health Department, students were able to perform for a small gathering of the Carthage community. These recitals were also livestreamed, so people who are not Carthage faculty, staff, or students could enjoy these performances in the comfort of their own home.

Of course the students faced challenges as they prepared for their recitals. On Nov. 9, the potential audience for the remaining recitals had to be restricted from 50 to only 10 people due to the rise of COVID-19 cases in Wisconsin. Additionally, students had to be more diligent in preparing for their recitals as rehearsal spaces were harder to reserve due to limited space. Luckily, these students adapted to the challenges that came with presenting a recital during a pandemic and were able to share fantastic music with the community.

A few students who performed in fall 2020 shared their experiences of putting on a recital during a pandemic.

Nicholas Renkosik '21 performed his student organ recital, “Prisms,” on Sept. 19.Nicholas Renkosik '21 performed his student organ recital, “Prisms,” on Sept. 19.Nicholas Renkosik ’21

“Planning a recital during this pandemic was as challenging as one might expect. Coming back to a totally changed environment on campus was odd to say the very least, but I knew that the amazing team of professors and staff in the Music Department would allow me to achieve success in planning and execution.

“I owe a tremendous amount of gratitude to Tianna Conway for her great knowledge of the rules and regulations of the Kenosha County Health Department, which we needed to abide by in order for this event to still take place in person.

“Preparing my repertoire once arriving back on campus was a bit of a struggle as I had to schedule use of the A. F. Siebert Chapel for the appropriated time. However, everything more or less fell into place quite nicely. Even though those in attendance were socially distanced, performing for a live audience again was amazing. I was on the verge of tears knowing that the recital I waited an additional five months to give in person was actually happening.

“While performing in this environment was less than ideal, it was an amazing learning experience. I am so proud of Carthage’s handling of COVID-19 guidelines and for taking precautionary actions for public events such as my recital as well as other fellow students’ recitals. It is amazing to see our community handle this great struggle with such grace in order to still cultivate a sense of community.”

Nathan Takahashi ’21 performed a joint recital with David Stoffle ’21 titled “A Journey Thr...Nathan Takahashi ’21 performed a joint recital with David Stoffle ’21 titled “A Journey Through Time” on Nov. 8.Nathan Takahashi ’21

“The biggest difference in these strange times was really the added formalities in finding times to rehearse on campus. Practice rooms and the recital hall have become a commodity, and signing up for these spaces grew to be difficult as more and more spaces were spoken for. There is also the challenge of adding masks to any performance. Thankfully, it wasn’t too bad with practice.”


Morgan Taylor '21 performed her honors lecture-recital, “Paul Verlaine and French Mélodie,” o...Morgan Taylor '21 performed her honors lecture-recital, “Paul Verlaine and French Mélodie,” on Nov. 11.Morgan Taylor ’21

“My lecture-recital was already an ambitious task, and adding a pandemic on top of it became daunting. I had so many questions about how something like this would work, but I think in the end, it went really well! I have only ever seen a few lecture-recitals. It is not something people at Carthage do very often, besides Professor Gregory Berg, so I was treading new territory. It was also essentially a thesis presentation, so there was an added level of stress with having all of my research done beforehand. The pandemic has really taken a toll on my motivation and drive to get things done, even when I am passionate about them.

“We ran into one bump along the way during planning because I ended up having to quarantine for 19 days due to being in contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19. We had to postpone my recital about a week and a half, but this ended up working out fine. Everyone was really understanding and accommodating with getting the date changed.  

“Ultimately, the only thing I was worried about in the pandemic sense was people being interested enough to show up. To my surprise, it was a great turnout! Not only was I happy to have a minimal audience of just 10 people, but I also had a large online presence. I chose to livestream on my personal Facebook page, so I could reach a bigger audience than just Carthage community members who are familiar with accessing the Fine Arts livestream. This also allowed me to take questions at the end and have some interaction with the people who were watching online.”  

Carthage has been able to adapt to these challenging circumstances and still provide opportunities to its music students. While there have been challenges along the way, the Music Department has been able to guide and educate students on their musical journeys. As the spring semester awaits the Music Department and Carthage as a whole will continue to create opportunities for students to learn and to grow.