Musicians come from all walks of life, with varying degrees of passion for what they do, but most are quite resilient to begin with. Add a global pandemic for two years, with assorted lockdowns and restrictions, and the desire to make music together with others increases exponentially. Rockway Mennonite Collegiate musicians are no different.
As we tentatively dip our toes into the pool of 2022, and start to wend our way through COVID-19 restrictions, I can’t help but think back to early December, when Rockway had a Christmas concert once again. Granted, we did have to record it, and it was on a much smaller scale, but it was in person, and it was glorious.
Since Rockway had planned not to start our high-school music classes until February, we launched extracurricular ensembles in September to build back momentum for the music department. The response was fantastic and we quickly had enough student interest to create four eager and excellent ensembles.
Rockway was a hive of activity at lunch times throughout the fall, as committees and clubs returned, so our ensembles had reduced amounts of time to practise, but we were excited to get together once again.
Students joined the stage band, which also included strings, a string ensemble, and either the upper- or lower-voice ensemble. For our Christmas concert, each group recorded two or three pieces of music. We wanted our recording to have the feel of a live concert, so there were only a few retakes of pieces.
We hired a professional videographer, and ended up with a beautifully recorded concert with at least five different cameras to capture multiple angles, and high-quality microphones to give as close to an off-the-floor sound as possible.
It was a lot of work and organization, as most concerts are, but the students and their teachers more than rose to the occasion, giving a concert that was worthy of Rockway’s reputation for excellence in music. It was wonderful to be able to prepare and celebrate the advent and birth of Christ in so many musical ways.
I personally can hardly wait to work in person with these amazing students again. We may not know what this new year will bring to our daily lives, but the creative spirit and energy is alive and well in our students at Rockway.
The author is a 1990 Rockway graduate.