Concert band releasing virtual performances to foster connection throughout pandemic

Members of the Prince Albert Concert Band virtually perform 'Amazing Grace' as a way to connect both together and with the public throughout the pandemic. (Prince Albert Concert Band/Facebook)

The Prince Albert Concert Band is filling a musical hole in their lives as a result of COVID-19 by releasing virtual performances.

On Wednesday, Director Kayleigh Skomorowski released the first performance, ‘Amazing Grace,’ on YouTube. She’s working on a second one that she hopes to release later this week.

About a dozen musicians took part in the project, which is about half of the band.

“It’s been obviously removed from my life at this time and I think a lot of band or choir directors that are involved in the ensemble work are kind of feeling that same loss of identity,” said Skomorowski.

She explained that those who wanted to participate would make videos of them playing their parts while listening to the track through earphones. She then merged the audio and the video, which took several days to complete.

The next song, though, will likely take longer because it’s more complicated rhythmically.

“I got to really hear what first sounded like individual performances then start to sound like us again, so it was really rewarding,” said Skomorowski.

“I’m not standing there with my baton in front of them making music with them, but because I got to bring their parts together, it felt a lot like standing in front of them.”

When the group first had to disband because of the pandemic, Skomorowski was trying to think of ways they could remain connected. Also a music teacher at St. Mary High School, Skomorowski thought of doing virtual performances for those bands and choirs, but didn’t think it would be feasible.

Instead, she thought it would be a good opportunity for the concert band.

“The band is a group of people from all sorts of different backgrounds, huge age range, lots of different interests and that’s the one thing that brings us together is music,” she said.

“We’ve been Zoom chatting and stuff like that, but it’s not the same as sharing that same common experience.”

Skomorowski said the public can continue to support community groups by following their social media pages. Once the pandemic has passed, she hopes people will rally around groups like the band to keep them up and running.

A lot of organizations are hurting because our audiences are the people we perform for, but they’re also a lot of our revenue generators,” said Skomorowski.

“I’d hate to see any of these organizations fizz up and die over all of this, so we’ve got to work together and protect them.”

To see the virtual performance, visit the Prince Albert Concert Band’s Facebook page. Currently, all concerts and rehearsals for the band are cancelled until further notice.