RYAN KRAVITZ/SAGAMORE STAFF
Perched on the hood of his Honda, senior Ben Snyder played his trumpet ferociously, showing great pride and enthusiasm for his original piece. The concert, which took place on Apr. 9 was a testament to the musicians’ of the Music Collective’s ability to continue to adapt to the Zoom era, as they were able to perform a mixture of both live and pre-recorded songs, all of which showcased their incredible talent in a group context.
The Music Collective is an audition-only group that features a selection of extremely talented musicians. The ensemble features a broad variety of instruments and is open to sophomores, juniors and seniors. Despite being in the midst of a global pandemic, the concert offered some real-world familiarity, as it featured a few live, socially distant performances. The concert was split between three live performances and four pre-recorded videos that showcased songs like “Birdland,” “Just The Two of Us” and an original piece Snyder called “This Car Drives Me Up the Wall.”
A fun play on words came with the performance of “Just The Two of Us” by Grover Washington Jr. It was impressive how the ensemble was able to base their performance off of the lyrics “just the two of us.” For the first half of the song, the flute and the saxophone alternated in a unique play on the title of the song. As the piece progressed, the other musicians joined in, but this creative way of showcasing the lyrics truly amplified the experience of the audience.
A true highlight of the concert was the original piece, “This Car Drives Me Up the Wall,” written by Snyder and performed by the Music Collective. This song’s upbeat rhythm, paired with excellent solos by the performers, as well as a catchy melody and bassline made it a joy to listen to. Although it would have been wonderful to see live, Snyder was able to make an excellent music video by having each musician film themselves playing their instrument in their own cars, and then editing the recordings to create one large grid that gave the effect of everyone playing together in the same room.
After hearing this original song as well as the other three pre-recorded performances, it was evident how synchronized the different instruments were. One of the many challenges of Zoom is sound delay, or the misalignment of audio when two people attempt to play music at the same time. This resulted in the ensemble pre-recording all of the music that would not be performed on the day of the concert. The success of this method was genuinely astonishing because even though each musician recorded their parts individually, each audio file had been perfectly synced together.
Another issue with Zoom that was apparent during the concert was audio compression. At certain points within each performance, the audio would cut in and out which made it hard at times to hear. Although this was not ideal, it is one of those things that is simply uncontrollable, and the Music Collective was still able to put on a great show.
The concert ended with the performance of “Ladybird” by Tadd Dameron. What made this performance stand out was the fantastic solo by senior saxophonist, Ido Leibowitz. Leibowitz used his knowledge of both music theory and improvisation to create a memorable performance. He was able to use a variety of different scales and rhythms to make the solo exciting, yet not too overpowering. His gentle playing helped connect his solo to the rest of the song, which gave the musicians a sense of connection.
Virtual concerts are difficult to plan, but it can be even more difficult to showcase the talent of each performer. The mixture of live and pre-recorded performances complimented each other well, and did a great job of showing what the program is all about: developing the skills to improvise. It was fun to listen to all of the talented musicians at the high school, and the inclusion of live group performance in addition to those pre-recorded and digitally compiled gave audiences hope of an imminent return to live musical concerts once again.