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Virtual tour for UMaine music ensembles

From UMaine

ORONO – Each spring, ensembles from the University of Maine School of Performing Arts’s Division of Music depart from campus for performance tours around Maine, stopping to play concerts in schools, churches and community centers across the state and beyond. 

This year, with the COVID-19 pandemic still limiting gatherings and travel, the spring tour will nevertheless go on — albeit virtually, with performance programs by the University Singers, the University of Maine Symphonic Band and the University of Maine Jazz Ensemble livestreamed via YouTube on Wednesday mornings in March and April.

The University of Maine Symphonic Band performs at 8:15 and 9:45 a.m. on April 7, and the University Jazz Ensemble plays at 8:15 and 9:45 a.m. on April.

Christopher White, director of the UMaine Symphonic Band, says his student performers are looking forward to the series, and especially the opportunity to make live music available to students during the school day. “Since we can’t tour,” he says, “livestreaming allows us to reach school students during a time when it is not possible to do so in person.” Spring tours have long been a chance to reach into the community and foster interest in and commitment to the performing arts. Beyond enjoyment, White says, “we want students to realize performing music does last beyond the public school years, for all students regardless of major.”

Jack Burt, professor of trumpet and director of the Jazz Ensemble, agrees. “We’ve worked hard to continue making music during these times,” he says, and despite the challenges and the university safety protocols in place, music ensembles at UMaine have thrived. Burt says this tour is a chance for them to show off a year of hard work under extraordinary conditions: “We’ve got a wonderful program prepared.” 

For Nola Prevost, an English major and member of the University Singers, the abrupt cancellation of last year’s spring tour during the first wave of COVID-19 was a blow. “The tour has always been such a special time for us, because we get to be immersed in the music and we grow closer as a group. Losing that to the pandemic was hard.” A virtual tour, she says, isn’t quite the same, but it’s a reminder of past successes and the possibilities post-pandemic.

“I’m just glad we’re able to fall into some semblance of normal.”

The University of Maine, founded in Orono in 1865, is the state’s land grant, sea grant and space grant university. It is located on Marsh Island in the homeland of the Penobscot Nation. As Maine’s flagship public university, UMaine has a statewide mission of teaching, research and economic development, and community service.

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