“For most students, music is a source of escape from the stress of pandemic life on campus.”
So says Ed Gollin, chair and professor of music, whose department, like many in the performing and visual arts, found creative ways to connect students with audiences at a time when venues were closed to the public.
Their solutions almost always involved technology, giving students’ work wider reach. Music recitals and concerts such as the I/O New Music 2021 Virtual Music Festival were live-streamed using high-quality microphones and archived on the college’s YouTube channel. Concert Choir members recorded individual voice parts, editing them together to create ensemble performances. Hundreds of people have viewed the recital and concert videos.
The dance program took to the streets last summer with “Finding Ground,” a 12-minute video of student, faculty and staff performances in locations around Williamstown. The CoDa contemporary dance ensemble performed Anna Sokolow’s Rooms, an exploration of isolation that combined in-person and remote dance.
Many studio art classes moved outdoors for on-campus students, while remote students received supply kits to make pieces at home. Their works were collected in a Virtual Big Art Show in the fall, with plans for a limited, in-person exhibition of seniors’ work at the college museum before graduation. Students frequently showcased their work in and around the W.L.S. Spencer Studio Art Building and filled Instagram with their creations.
Videoconferencing gave students and the broader Williams community access to special guests and industry professionals—such as when Alex Szrol ’21 met costume designer Sharen Davis during the theater department’s virtual Green Room series.
“I never imagined I would get to meet the person behind the wardrobe of Watchmen,” says Szrol of taking part in the weekly series, organized by theater chair Omar Sangare.
As part of their coursework, theater students performed plays as radio dramas, and senior honors and independent study students staged digital performances. Professor Shanti Pillai connected her Global Digital Performance students with those at Shiv Nadar University in India to create short videos and written responses.
“Adapting our program to fit the constraints of pandemic life was our only real option,” says Sangare, echoing the words of many faculty and staff in the arts. “The show must go on!”
All photos by Bradley Wakoff/Berkshirian Images, except for Javier Robelo’s ’22 artwork, which was photographed by Megan Mazza.