An in-person concert may not be possible, for now, but USask music professor and Greystone Singers director Jennifer Lang has come up with a novel way for the choir to perform virtually together.

USask unites: Greystone Singers won’t let COVID-19 stop them

Since the first cases of COVID-19 were announced in the province, members of the USask community have come together to support one another in these uncertain times.

Extraordinary circumstances have brought out extraordinary responses from members of our USask community. From frontline health-care workers to researchers looking for a solution to this global health threat, there are so many stories about people are working to make our home communities safer and healthy. Here are a few of the inspiring stories of our students, staff, faculty and alumni.

When an in-person, year-end concert was not possible due to social distancing in response to COVID-19, University of Saskatchewan (USask) music professor and Greystone Singers director Jennifer Lang came up with a novel way for the choir to perform virtually together.

“We were wondering how we could celebrate a year of accomplishment without still being together,” said Lang. “We were not trying to duplicate the experience of performing together—it couldn’t be duplicated—but we wanted to come together under a common goal, for a common purpose.”

The solution: invite members of the choir to each record a video of themselves in isolation singing Warrior, a song by Canadian folksinger Kim Baryluk that the group had performed and recorded together back in November.

Wayne Giesbrecht, senior media developer with USask’s Media Production unit, then mixed and blended the recordings into a video, combining the individual voices with the full strength of the choir.

“A message of solidarity is what the song is all about,” said Lang. “We are strong and purposeful on our own. We are even greater when we come together as a community.”

The Greystone Singers comprises 40 students, about half from the USask music department and the remainder from across campus. Eight students are featured in the video.

“Art is not just about the product and concert—it’s about the learning process and journey, connecting and exploring the repertoire,” said Lang. “In the absence of a concert, this video brought that process into focus.”

The process resulted in some surprises for the performers. For instance, in the original live performance in November, there were no soloists.

“I watched the video, and I was a bit shocked,” said music education student Kate Nachilobe, who is featured singing solo at the beginning of the video. “There’s me, singing by myself!” 

The process of performing and recording alone took Nachilobe more than two and a half hours and between 15 and 20 attempts to get the performance to her liking.

“It was bittersweet—not the same as having singers beside you and in performance,” she said.

Nachilobe said she feels very grateful to Lang for being so creative in the face of an unprecedented situation, and “really proud” to be a student in the music department.

“It made me feel so special that while classes are winding down, we didn’t need to have an in-person concert,” she said. “As long as we can still make music together, that’s something.”

Watch the video: https://youtu.be/tVG5xeOqO3M

Watch a year-in-review video of all of the Greystone Singers’ performances.

Share your stories with us: We are collecting the stories of resilience and good spirit from our USask community. Please send story ideas and photos to news@usask.ca.

As a community it is critical that we support each other and remain respectful during what is a difficult time for all of us. Please follow all guidelines and take all precautions to prevent the further spread of COVID-19 in our community.

How you can help our students during the COVID-19 pandemic: https://alumni.usask.ca/news/2020/covid-19-how-you-can-help-our-students.php

For the latest developments and information about the University of Saskatchewan's response to COVID-19, please go to www.usask.ca/updates.

The University of Saskatchewan is undertaking critical research and contributing to global efforts to combat COVID-19. The University of Saskatchewan's Vaccine and Infectious Disease Organization (VIDO-InterVac) is a world leader in developing vaccines and technologies to combat infectious diseases. Your support of the COVID-19 Research Fund supports the increased efforts of researchers at the University of Saskatchewan to develop vaccines and treatments for COVID-19. Donate now.

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