Band and choir join hands for online performance

Provided by Michael Klein. VMD members perform the national anthem for BVH's 2020 graduation ceremony in this clip.

Adali Leon, Staff Artist

Despite living in the midst of a global pandemic, Bonita Vista High’s (BVH) Club Blue and Vocal Music Department (VMD) continue to spread their love for music by recording and uploading an online performance of “Sleep” by Eric Whitacre. The performance was optional but encouraged by both the band and choir directors. 

VMD director Michael Klein included the performance in a distance learning plan that allows his students to choose three of seven different assignments each week to submit.

“It is part of their distance learning plan that I call ‘Choose Your Own Adventure.’ Assignments include a vocal warm-up log, podcast reports, music history lessons and of course the virtual choir,” Klein said.  

VMD Soprano Section member and senior Mikaela Carlton has been in show choir for three years. She explains that their team had originally planned to perform “Sleep” at the spring concert this year, but because of the cancelation of many school events, they decided to move the performance to a virtual platform.

“Our teachers have been talking about this [collaboration performance] since last year, and we actually started learning the music to this song last year, but [we] didn’t have enough time to put it all together with our busy schedules. It’s likely that they’ll post it on our YouTube channel [BVH VMD] and I believe it will be available to the public,” Carlton said.

Students will submit recordings of themselves playing their parts of the piece to their directors, who will compile all the recordings to create the performance. Club Blue director Mark McCann explains the difficulties he and Klein will experience because of the new online platform they are using which requires hours of editing videos and audios of every student’s camera as well as the microphone and recording environment to match together.

“What we are trying to do here is monumentally more challenging to accomplish. Since the internet is not perfect and even at its fastest there is still lag in input [and] output, it is not feasible to put on a performance that is actually ‘live’,” McCann said.

However, McCann also believes this gives his students a great opportunity to be able to perform with another BVH musical group, the VMD, who he has wanted to work with for a while.

“This is our opportunity to unite and remind our students that we are in this together,” McCann said. “The sonority created by instruments and voice making music together is absolutely breathtaking.”

Assistant Director of Music Machine and senior Molly Murphy has been in show choir for four years and states that the directors have a good relationship and had planned to do a collab performance since last year. She has never done an online performance but is excited to work with Club Blue on it.

“Mr. McCann and I are great friends and have very similar goals and desires for our programs. ‘Sleep’ is written with the band and choir parts playing and singing together, [so] I’m so excited to do this with everyone, especially Club Blue,” Klein said.

Club Blue student and senior Desiree Leeper plays the euphonium who has been in a school band for six years and a part of Club Blue for four years. Leeper has never done an online performance but expresses her excitement towards the upcoming performance with the VMD.

“Club Blue has been wanting to collaborate with show choir to perform a piece together, but with these new limitations, we were not able to do a live performance. Now that there is a way that we can still collaborate, I am definitely excited to make music with other musicians to make art,” Leeper said.

Like Leeper, Carlton has also never participated in an online performance but is excited to have the chance to try it with Club Blue.

“We’ve been very excited to work with the band. I’m sad that we won’t be able to work together in person this year since it’s my last year in high school, but I’m very grateful that our teachers are working hard to make cool projects like this happen,” Carlton said.

McCann emphasizes the importance of unity through this online performance during a time of global hardship, quoting American composer Leonard Bernstein: “This will be our reply to violence: to make music more intensely, more beautifully, more devotedly than ever before.”

“I think the essence of that [quote] applies to whenever mankind finds itself battling adversity. We may be separated, but with music we can always come together,” McCann said.