When the Saint Rose Camerata, the faculty-led music ensemble, canceled its season finale in March due to COVID-19, the group found another way to showcase its work. Using funds set aside for the concert, the Camerata produced a CD, which Professor Yvonne Hansbrough, the Camerata founder and director, said “allows us to document, promote, and preserve our performances.”
The just-released collection features 17 works culled from live performances at the Massry Center for the Arts. Among other things, the project illustrates the group’s musical range and the wealth of faculty contributors. Click here to listen to selections from the work or try the Camerata’s You Tube Channel.
Here, Hansbrough, who plays flute, discusses how the CD was made, its value to Saint Rose music students, and what’s ahead for the Camerata:
When COVID-19 halted live performances, you decided the show must go on. How did you proceed?
COVID-19 made it impossible to gather for recording sessions, so a CD of live performances was the way to go. I made a list of memorable performances and listened to several hours of CDs. I contacted some faculty performers to help in the process.
My goal was to select the best performances and include as many faculty members as possible. The CD features 34 performers, including faculty, guest artists, and students. Other factors came into play, including the budget. I had to balance costs of an audio engineer, mechanical licenses, and CD replication and packaging.
What is the overall theme or mood of the collection?
The CD represents diverse composers; including women (Clara Schumann, Georgia Stitt, Marcy Heisler), Latin American (Alberto Ginastera), and Jewish composers (Leonard Bernstein, Darius Milhaud) as well as prominent figures such as Bach, Beethoven, and Ravel. Styles range from Baroque through contemporary, and even living composers such as American George Crumb.
Some works show influences from jazz and musical theater styles. The recording presents a variety of genres, including vocal (cantata, lieder, mixed with instruments) and instrumental (piano trio, mixed string and wind, chamber orchestra) genres.
What would you like to have happen as a result of the release of this CD?
The CD is for everyone, but it was originally envisioned to recruit music students. The CD will be available at recruiting events and available on digital platforms such as SoundCloud and on YouTube. I would like the CD to promote the College, recruiting talented students, and strengthening music networks. This will ultimately enhance the visibility of The College of Saint Rose.
In light of the limited live events this fall, what’s next?
Since we won’t be performing for a live audience in Picotte Recital Hall, I am planning performances through livestreaming or pre-recorded videos on our YouTube channel.
It is important that we keep our performances alive during this time, and that we still provide quality chamber music to the College community and the public. We plan to take precautions with social distancing and using masks when rehearsing.
What is your schedule?
December is Beethoven’s 250th birthday, and I hope to highlight some of his works, along with women and BIPOC composers. Another plan is a program to celebrate Black History Month in February with performances of music by William Grant Still, Florence Price, and other African-American composers. We hope to present some music from the canceled 2020 Season Finale for March 2021. I would like to feature some of our wonderful faculty composers as well.
What can Saint Rose music students gain from this body of work?
Since the CD represents a variety of style periods and genres and diverse backgrounds of composers, students will experience famous composers they may have studied in classes such as Music History, along with composers who are not so well-known.
Also, they can see the results of a completed creative project and perhaps be inspired to create their own CD. Of course, students listening to their teachers perform live is enriching, and educational, but having a recording at their disposal allows them to hear pieces over and over.
The CD may include a piece a student is studying. They might be even motivated to learn a new piece by hearing the recording.