The Show Must Go Online



In the midst of theatre shutdowns and a myriad of empty stages, artists all over the world have been locked out of their performance spaces during quarantine. Though confined, they have persevered by transforming their homes into performing spaces, working to create for an audience with the help of some recording and editing magic. Groton School’s artists and performers shared this drive, working diligently on their new performance project for the Groton community: a virtual concert.

Inspired by the many live music events being put out by famous artists during the pandemic, the music prefects decided to create their own rendition for the Circle. “I actually was watching an iHeart Radio At-Home Concert before school was even canceled,” explains Joshua Guo ’20, music prefect. “I reached out to the open mic heads and other music prefects to see if we could put together our own version for the school.” After the official announcement of online school for the remainder of the year, the prefects became even more determined to find a way to bring the community together through a virtual platform. “Especially as seniors, we wanted to put on one last show for the school to wrap up our music careers here,” he adds.

The concert itself has been assembled with the help of editing software, in a similar fashion to the virtual postludes during chapel service. Initially, an email was sent out to the entire Groton community to introduce the concert, encouraging performers to upload their videos to Google Drive. “We first watch through the videos to make sure everything is fine,” says Joshua, regarding the editing process. “Then, we find a slot in our performance order that would make for the best flow for our concert.” After the prefects downloaded the performances, they were tasked with editing all the elements of the concert together in Final Cut: performance video files, transitions, audio, introductions, and text to showcase the performers, where they were recording from, and the composer and name of each piece. 

With over twenty submissions, a diverse range of performers from Groton’s community have stepped up to the virtual stage. There were familiar voices such as frequent Open Mic performer Griffin Elliot ’22, who often writes his own songs, self-accompanying on the piano. During the concert, he offered his latest creation titled “Primordial Soup and Salad,” cozily filmed from the upright piano in his room. Griffin’s lyrics originally had a few expletives, but due to his audience, he rose to the occasion: “The Groton Music Department and I agreed that a little censorship was necessary. However, I didn’t want to record another video, so I decided to add a little humor and crudely dub over the words in question with more family-friendly options.” Over quarantine, he has been able to spend a ton of time at the piano. “I had some stuff that I wanted to be able to show to the community,” he says. “Open mics have consistently been my favorite school functions, and I wouldn’t miss a chance to be a part of it.”

On the contrary, several newcomers premiered their first Groton performance, such as Gwen Torriani ’22 singing Elton John’s “I’m Still Standing.” Gwen expressed her thoughts about the recording process: “Making the video took a very long time for me. Unlike a live performance, if I mess up, I can go back and fix it. That made me end up redoing it over and over again!” Despite these troubles, her video was especially high quality, filmed using two cameras on tripods. “I thought it would be cool to have multiple camera angles,” she said. Along with her music, Gwen’s video also included a message of hope with a drawing displaying: “ça va bien aller,” a viral image of hope in Canada which translates to: “it will be okay.” 

The concert also offered performances from faculty members. Ms. Lamont’s appearance was no surprise- she is a supporter and frequent performer of Groton’s Open Mic, admiring its “student-driven and genuine” nature. “There are no prizes, no tangible rewards, and no judgment,” she explains. “There is only pure joy in the audience and the musicians who perform.” For the virtual concert, she sang “My Real Superhero,” accompanying herself on the guitar. “It is a heartfelt song that points out that life’s real superheroes are not cartoon action figures, but rather everyday people who do the essential jobs in our communities,” said Ms. Lamont. Given the global health crisis, she selected this song, dedicating her performance to the superheroes and superheroines of the pandemic. 

“It’s been amazing hearing everything from classical piano, to a one-man barbershop quartet, to (one of my favorites) an R&B song played completely on guitar,” says Joshua. “We hope that this can be a nice way to wrap up this unforgettable year, and for us seniors, our time at Groton.”