Collaboration between the college’s music and communication studies departments meant that the show could go on, as the Men’s Choir and Women’s Choir lifted their voices for a live concert and documentary now available for viewing (see embedded video).

Music faculty member Mihoko Tsutsumi, who is the college’s director of choral activities, connected with communication studies faculty member Michael Riecke and the students of WTOP-10 TV, and the result was music to the ears of performers and fans alike.

WTOP’s Mikayla Green directed the four-camera shoot of the performance and resulting documentary titled “Springing back,”  which includes behind-the-scenes interviews. The whole production showcases talents throughout Oswego's School of Communication, Media and the Arts.

Throughout fall 2020, the choir only functioned on a virtual level, which included producing and releasing videos under the guidance of Tsutsumi and Josh Russell, who provides concert/event recording and sound support for the music department. Since students traditionally learn piano notes and harmonize in person, the extra logistics -- in addition to the physical distance -- made the experience challenging.

The spring semester brought improvements, even if capacity limitations meant Women’s Choir practices were more hybrid, with both virtual and live meetings for half of the choirs on a rotating basis. The smaller Men’s Choir could all practice in person.

More time together, and ultimately doing the concert in person with performers spaced out in an outdoor setting, meant a lot to choir members like Dakota Russell. 

“The world’s better being with other people because of the physical energy brought to the room,” Wilson said, adding that togetherness is one of many things that makes the program so special to members.

It was “such a spiritual experience with everyone returning and singing,” choir member Meghan Donnely added.

The joy and desire to sing together was palpable “because the choir is unifying for students to share happiness,” Tsutsumi said.

Show goes on

The outdoor spring concert unfolded on April 24 on the steps between Culkin Hall and Hewitt with broadcasting students filming the show, which comprises most of “Springing Back.” 

The Women’s Choir performed numbers including “How Can I Keep From Singing?,” “Ad Amore” and the comical choral piece “Johnny Said No.” The Men’s Choir sang Beethoven’s “Creation’s Hymn,” “Bring Him Home” (from “Les Miserables”), the South African traditional “Tuba” and Fun’s pop hit “Some Nights.” The combined choirs performed the thematically appropriate “I Sing Because I’m Happy.”

Josh Russell noted the recording was a complex production for audio as well as video because of the outdoor elements. 

Getting the best audio required “extra steps of pre-recording piano before the performance, and use of windscreens on microphones to lower unwanted sounds of wind gusts, as well as additional EQ filtering to reduce the sounds coming from the surrounding buildings,” he said. 

Learn more about the college's vocal ensembles on the music department website, while students and faculty alike look forward to future productions to entertain the campus community.

-- Story by Alex Brown of the Class of 2021