Choral Union sings melody for our times

Choral Union sings melody for our times

06/09/2020 

A very old tradition at SUNY Cortland, the Choral Union’s spring concert, didn’t take a break this year for the COVID-19 pandemic.

Well after the campus closed down during March, a part of the group of students, faculty and community members who make up the choir raised their voices to sing the haunting strains of the 2016 melody, “When the Earth Stands Still,” by Canadian composer Don MacDonald.

The song, which meditates on a forest encounter during a calm before the storm, can be viewed on YouTube.

To perform the piece, choir members needed to practice safe social distancing in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, explained choir director David Neal, professor of performing arts at SUNY Cortland.

They shared their individual components of the song via Zoom, said Neal, who also teaches courses in applied voice, and works with the musical theatre group.

Simple, right? Wrong. Anyone who has listened to professional broadcasters on network TV knows that the remotely spaced dialog sequence between interviewer and subject usually happens, well, a bit out of sequence.

“There’s a sound lag,” Neal said.

So MacDonald’s song, if recorded off a collective Zoom gathering, would punish instead of soothing the ears of listeners.

“The recording did not happen simultaneously,” Neal explained.

“It’s a complex process, putting one of these virtual concerts together.”

Neal studied the technology and sent everybody a guide track for the song that featured himself conducting and Alan Giambattista playing on the piano while a metronome kept the time.

Not every student and community member in the Choral Union could participate due to a lack of technology, Neal said.

“Those who did listened with earbuds so others could not hear it and recorded their track individually and sent it to me.”

Neal had the separate recordings delivered to the university’s sound engineers, Finger Lakes Audio Video Recording LLC, which synchronized the sound and video files, a fairly laborious process.

“We need to do our teaching online at this point and so I’m researching for software that can work without so much of a time lag,” Neal noted. “It hasn’t come out yet but they are getting closer.”

The result of everyone’s effort is music for our times.

“I chose this composition, which was on our program when we were working live before the shutdown,” Neal said. “I chose it because the text is very relevant, expressing the need for human beings to connect in the face of a threat, a storm, which is what we have all been living through.”

The recording also will be posted on the Rose Hall website.


More News

Cortland's restart plan approved

Cortland's restart plan approved

SUNY Cortland's plan to resume on-campus education for the Fall 2020 semester was approved by SUNY administration.


Cortland offers virtual, SUNY-wide study abroad

Cortland offers virtual, SUNY-wide study abroad

From a distance, students will help Israel bloom its desert economy.


SUNY Cortland removes SAT/ACT requirement for applicants

SUNY Cortland removes SAT/ACT requirement for applicants

The university will not require an SAT or ACT score from applicants during the 2020-21 academic year.


SUNY Cortland launches anti-racism website

SUNY Cortland launches anti-racism website

SUNY Cortland has created an anti-racism resource page filled with tools to understand and fight the centuries-old American problem.


Emma Schulz Repeats as First Team Academic All-American

Emma Schulz Repeats as First Team Academic All-American

The junior biology major earned national first-team honors for the second straight year.


Brent DiVittorio Earns Academic All-America Recognition

Brent DiVittorio Earns Academic All-America Recognition

The graduate student was named a Division III Men's Track and Field/Cross Country Academic All-American for the 2019-20 season.


President Bitterbaum's Pride Month message

President Bitterbaum's Pride Month message

The video was a part of SUNY's PRIDE 2020 celebrations this June.


Child Care Center continues through COVID-19

Child Care Center continues through COVID-19

It was the only facility open in Cortland County for children from birth to age 5.


Cortland Challenge raises more than $250,000

Cortland Challenge raises more than $250,000

Donors backed important initiatives including the Student Emergency Fund.


SUNY Cortland introduces online master’s in literacy education

SUNY Cortland introduces online master’s in literacy education

The program, which full-time students can complete in one year, leads to two teaching certifications in a discipline that applies to all subjects.