Fine arts department continues fine work
JULIANNA SCHRAG Staff Writer
In the midst of a worldwide pandemic, fine arts at Bethel College are finding ways to thrive. Thanks to the combined efforts of dedicated professors and students, music and theater departments on campus hope to share the fruits of their labors with the wider Bethel community this semester. Ensemble directors and Fine Arts professors share how they have adapted practice protocols and performance hopes while strictly adhering to COVID-19 guidelines and regulations.
“The time frame we meet in is part of the safety protocol for each group,” Director of Bands/Assistant Professor of Music Joel Boettger, said.
According to Boettger, who rehearses his ensembles twice a week (at most), “Rehearsals [are] 45 minutes because of the concentration of potential aerosols. All musicians are required to be at least seven feet apart but farther apart is preferable, especially for potential super spreader instruments like trumpet and trombone. Bell covers and face masks are mandatory.”
Similarly, Director of Pep Band and Steel Band/Director of Summer Programs Brad Shores, noted that, “the Steel Drum Band and Pep Band [have] been doing more in-person practices… following COVID-19 protocols such as wearing masks and using bell covers.” Both of Shores’ ensembles are currently rehearsing in smaller groups in order “to accommodate more distance between players.”
The Bethel College Concert Choir, directed by Professor and Chair of Music/Director of Choral Activities William Eash, meets five days a week and rehearses for a maximum of thirty minutes. The full ensemble splits into smaller practice groups at least twice per week. A six feet distance is maintained between ensemble members throughout rehearsal, and specially-made singing masks are used to enhance the experience for the singers.
The Bethel College theater department is planning to produce a play entitled I and You, written by Lauren Gunderson this semester. The plot centralizes around two youths, one, fittingly, “homebound due to illness.”
“Auditions will be held in [Krehbiel] auditorium Monday, March 22nd at 6:00 p.m. Callbacks, if needed, will be held Tuesday, March 23rd at 6:00 p.m,” Assistant Professor of Communication Arts/Director of Theater Karen Robu said.
“We have purchased the live-stream license so audience members can watch safely from home. Whether or not we allow audience members in the auditorium will depend on COVID numbers at the time,” Robu said.
The script description reads: “I and You is an ode to youth, life, love, and the strange beauty of human connectedness.” The show will premiere on April 30th, running each evening through May 1st, with an additional matinee performance on Saturday.
Thus far, it appears the efforts of fine arts directors to keep ensembles active have paid off. Leaders are optimistic about performance opportunities.
“I haven’t heard of a super-spreader event happening anywhere as part of an instrumental music rehearsal...due to our protocols we have all remained healthy during our rehearsals,” Boettger said.
Though contingent on county and campus COVID-19 cases, Boettger has “some plans to perform outside with all groups when spring arrives.” Concert Choir is also hopeful for an outdoor concert in May.
Whether through vocalizing, playing an instrument, or acting, Threshers are adapting to ensure they can exercise their artistic talents safely this semester.