Category Archives: Arts & Entertainment

Music ensembles adopt safe practices for COVID-19

Z Martin

Contributing Writer

 

As COVID-19 continues to spread throughout the country and the world, colleges like ours have had to take some drastic measures to keep students as safe as possible while still providing opportunities for academic achievement in a variety of fields. One of the most challenging fields to regulate has been music. 

Beyond the obvious need for bands and chorus groups to be able to clearly hear each other while spreading out enough to maintain social distancing, studies show that singing and playing brass or woodwind instruments drastically increases the number of dangerous aerosol particles released into the air, resulting in an increased need for social distancing. As a result, music departments such as ours have had to devise clever workarounds that balance these opposing needs.

I spoke with our Director of Bands Joel Graham, who described some of these methods, starting with the use of Performer’s Protective Equipment (PPE). According to Graham, “Each student has a set of specialized performance masks that allow the student to play without taking the mask off and a fabric bell cover that goes on the bell of each instrument to reduce the spread of aerosols.” He also described socially distancing practices, which include bands being divided into smaller groups. These groups practice in blocks, with downtime reserved between each block so that the space can air out, leaving no aerosols remaining when the next block arrives. In addition, the marching band is practicing entirely outside and, in lieu of public performances, working on pre-recorded performances to be released later this fall, with the first recording sessions scheduled for next month.

Gracie Shreve ’23, a music therapy major and one of the three student managers for the Wooster Chorus, further clarified another form of PPE that Graham mentioned. “For singers,” she said, “masks are created almost in a duckbill fashion to create more room for jaw movement, lip placement and taking adequate breaths; for instrumentalists, masks are double-layered in a garage door manner where an outer flap covers the mouth and nose while still providing enough space for the mouthpiece and breathing.” 

However, because individual choral students need to practice unmasked, some very interesting methods have been devised. According to Shreve, “Many members of the faculty have given up their offices to be used as spaces for vocalists to have distanced lessons. The offices have been issued low-latency video and audio equipment which runs between two rooms at a time. The masked professor and accompanist work in one room and the unmasked vocalist in another. This way, the vocalist can still sing with their piano accompaniment and also receive visual critiques from the professor in real-time.”

In summary, although Shreve did mention some communication latency between students, teachers and administration, it seems that our faculty and administration have created creative and innovative solutions to support the musical arts while keeping students safe.

Maggie Rogers’ debut album comments on change

Lily Kate Harpham

Contributing Writer

 

In her debut studio album Heard It in A Past Life, Maggie Rogers turns two years of constant creation into 45 minutes. The album features twelve songs, including “Light On,” which ranked as the thirteenth th best song of 2019 on the Billboard charts. Released on Jan. 18, 2019, Heard It In A Past Life debuted at number two on the Billboard 200 in its first week; by April 2019, it reached 400 million streams.

The overall theme of Heard It in A Past Life is change. Change in relationships, in others and in yourself, change in the world and change in the seasons. The first track on the album is “Give A Little,” an empathetic and lighthearted song intended to “reintroduce” Rogers to her listeners. Inspired by the national school walkout for gun control, Rogers channeled all her love, fear and confidence for the future into this song. Starting with the strong words, “If I was who I was before / Then I’d be waiting at your door / But I cannot confess I am the same” — Rogers tells her listeners that everything is different about her and the world. Calling out to her listeners to “… Open up your heart/Drop your weapons, drop your guard/Just a little trust is all it takes,” Rogers encourages empathy and mutual respect for others, no matter their background.

Another song that is notable on the album is “Alaska.” In an interview with Pitchfork, Rogers described “Alaska” as being written about “… a time in my life when I was really lost, and it, in turn, has provided so much clarity for me.” Once again, we have a song about change, this time personal; with the soft and sturdy rhythm inspired by the sound of her jeans brushing against each other and the crumble of leaves heard while hiking in Alaska, this song is a beautiful mixture of layered vocals and light drums with snapping fingers. In fact, during his Artist-in-Residency at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts in 2016, Pharrell Williams listened to “Alaska” and was brought to tears by the song. The video of Williams’ response to hearing “Alaska” went viral, and with it so did Rogers.

The twelfth and final song on the album is “Back In My Body,” a song about “coming home to yourself.” Plucking experiences from her time spent abroad in Europe, Rogers paints the picture of someone watching their life change around them. The chorus, complete with deeply rhythmic drums and beautiful layered harmonies of Rogers’ soft voice, is a beautiful conclusion to the album. In the chorus of “Back In My Body,” Rogers sings, “This time, I know I’m (Back in my body) / Lost you in the border town of anywhere / I found myself when I was going everywhere.” “Back In My Body” is infectious, as is the rest of the album. You can never be mad about having a Maggie Rogers song stuck in your head; they are just too good.

LANY lyrics inspire from coast to coast

Chloe Burdette 

Editor in Chief

 

The first time I ever heard the musical genius of the band LANY was my first year of college at a John Mayer concert. (His music is, without a doubt, a guilty pleasure for most. Just admit it.) It was 2017, and Mayer gave the opening slot of his “The Search for Everything” tour to a drummer named Jake Goss, a guitar player by the name of Les Priest and a vocalist and songwriter named Paul Jason Klein together known as LANY.

At concerts, I never really paid even the slightest bit of attention to the openers — mainly because my attention span was short, and I never had the patience to wait for the main act. But this day was extremely different. LANY took advantage of all of the stage lights, videoboards and design right as they stepped foot onto the stage and forced absent-minded Mayer fanatics to pay attention. The first song they sang to the crowd on that night, “Hericane,” weirdly wasn’t memorable for its powerful vocals, the flashy video background or the stage production. Instead, the performance itself was memorable because of the emotional aura that Klein created. He gripped the microphone like it was his lifeline, and the way he controlled the stage was like none other. Cheesy, over-the-top love songs are normally the bane of my existence, but this one struck a chord in most of the audience by the silence he elicited. 

Once Klein sang the last lyric of his original song, I whipped out my phone to Google search LANY’s almost-blank Wikipedia page. I knew in that moment, I was roped into a new love affair of edgy, yet mellow love songs that I would inevitably blast through the speakers of my 2007 Hyundai Tucson during midnight drives

If you fast forward a couple of years, LANY has now captured many hearts through their relatable lyrics on struggling relationships, family ties and the real emotions that come with these issues. For me, one of the most notable tracks that frontman Klein has created is “If This Is The Last Time,” which is sung from the perspective of Klein as he pays homage to his parents for raising him, even when times were difficult and fights ensued between them. Klein sings, “Sorry for the nights when I made the wrong choice. Life is flying by and it’s hitting me now …  I hope it’s not, but if this is the last time please come close, I love you with all my heart, you know …” This song not only inspires me to stop and appreciate the good and bad moments that have morphed me into the person I am today, but to hug my loved ones just a little tighter anytime I get the chance. 

Many things have changed since I first saw LANY in concert. I am soon to be a college graduate, I am searching for real-world jobs and I am not at all equipped emotionally to leave The College of Wooster within the next year. But one thing that hasn’t changed is the resonance of LANY’s songs, no matter what stage of life I am in. So, for now, I will just be taking the world by “Hericane” instead of storm, one Klein lyric at a time.

Tenet is Nolan’s most ambitious film yet

Colin Tobin

Contributing Writer

 

Tenet is the latest movie by writer and director Christopher Nolan. The film stars John David Washington, Robert Pattinson, Elizabeth Debicki and Kenneth Branagh. It follows a character only known as “The Protagonist” as he explores the world of espionage and is tasked with saving the world from a new technology that can manipulate time. I’m going to try to be as vague as possible to avoid spoilers.

Christopher Nolan might be the most ambitious blockbuster filmmaker working today, and Tenet certainly reflects that. I’m not the biggest Nolan fan, but I respect how he makes these visually stunning, mind-bending experiences. That being said, I think this is probably the most ambitious project of his career. The action set-pieces are extremely well-directed and perfectly choreographed. From what I’ve read, there was no green screen use and barely any visual effects shots, which is extremely impressive considering the scale of some of the scenes. The production team also bought and blew up a real 747 airplane, reflecting their commitment to realism. Nolan even consulted with a theoretical physicist to try to make the story as close to theoretically possible as he could. The numerous moving pieces in the movie are handled well, in general, and it’s very well-paced for being two and a half hours long. The way that time is used in the plot is something that I’ve never seen before. The entire cast is great. John D. Washington further proves himself as a leading man and Kenneth Branagh’s acting is over-the-top in the best way possible. In the absence of Hans Zimmer, Ludwig Göransson’s score stands out and drives the energy of each scene.

Where the film lacks is in its character development. The biggest thing we learn about the characters is that Debicki’s character has a son she cares about. I can’t say that I really cared about anyone, but I think Nolan was aiming for a plot-driven movie. If you’re familiar with Nolan’s other work, like Inception, Interstellar, and Memento, you know how confusing his plots can be. Tenet blows these films out of the water in comparison. I’ve seen this movie twice so far and I think I understand only about 80% of what happened. To me, Nolan can trip over his own feet in his writing and things just aren’t clear on screen. Some helpful details are hidden in a line or two, then it moves on and expects you to catch up. Taking on a project like this likely means there are going to be a good bit of plot holes, and Tenet is no exception, but there is nothing that invalidates the overarching plot. To fully understand it, you need to rewatch it at least two or three times.

This was my first trip back to an actual movie theater in about six months, and things have obviously changed in how things operate. From what I could tell, the theater was very safe and cleaned often. There were hand sanitizing stations in the halls and wipes to use to clean your seat to ensure that it was germ-free. The four total people in the theater, including myself, wore masks the entire time and the experience honestly wasn’t much different than normal.

Tenet is a great way to welcome back the theatrical experience. The visuals and intriguing ambition make up for the lackluster characters and puzzle-box of a plot. Despite being in the bottom half of Nolan’s filmography for me personally and giving me a headache, I still had a good time.

English Department to Host Virtual Movie Screenings

Artemis Swanson

Staff Writer

Megan Tuennerman

Managing Editor

 

As health restrictions limit traditional extracurricular venues, academic departments look for alternative opportunities to provide enjoyable and educational events for their majors and minors. In that vein, the English Department has planned out a new monthly event in the form of a virtual movie screening. Each month, the department will be choosing a film to screen to students in the department, as well as a few additional invited groups from around campus.

Departmental assistants Holly Engel ’21 and Jenna Stanton ’22 have been working hard with Department Chair Leslie Wingard and the department’s administrative assistant, Nat McCoy, to create a fun and entertaining way for students to engage virtually with one another. Engel emphasized how important building a space for community was when planning this event. “Through this event, we hope to foster community and bring people together at a time when togetherness is particularly difficult. Even though everything is still virtual, we’re handing out popcorn beforehand that students can snack on as they watch the film — something that will help us stay connected while watching even though we won’t be together physically. Off campus students are able to participate as well because we’re sending them popcorn in the mail, and the screening  is virtual. All they’ll need to join us is the Microsoft Teams link.”

The screening is not intended to only be designed for English majors and minors, as Department Chair Leslie Wingard assures. “We are purposely creating interdisciplinary social groups at these monthly virtual movie nights this semester,” she says. Of these social groups, the department has invited students from the French and Africana studies departments, as well as the Wooster Chorus and Word of Mouth poetry club, to the first showing occurring this week. In addition, the department plans to extend event invitations to other departments and activity groups for future screenings, with invitations being sent to the Education and Arts departments and the basketball team for next month.

The first showing, a piece known as Poetry, is a 2010 South Korean drama written and directed by Lee Chang-dong. The department is screening the film on Friday, Sept. 25 from 7-10 p.m. The film has reportedly received rave reviews from previous viewers. Furthermore, Engel explained that there will be a Q&A session after the movie with professors (Dr. Christopher Kang and professor and poet Daniel Bourne) and English students (Sierra Foltz ’21 and Brian Luck ’22), facilitating a discussion on poetry, writing and teaching in the context of the movie. They are hoping that “having people from so many different disciplines will make for an interesting, engaging conversation.”

COVID-19 PLAYLIST

Jenelle Booker 

Contributing Writer

 

In a time where sitting inside is the preferred option to going out, a quarantine playlist that accompanies every mood of a pandemic, is an essential. First, however, it’s hard to talk about COVID-19 and 2020 without talking about Black lives and the awakening of young people to the systemic injustices in America. So, to begin this playlist are a couple songs to honor the many who have lost their lives to racists, sexcists, homophobes, xenophobes, and bigots of every kind and those who are placing their bodies in the streets to advocate for real change.

In spite of the hopelessness and anxiety COVID-19 has brought me, it’s important to remember (as cheesy as it sounds) that this time will indeed pass, that there are moments within every day to appreciate, and there is comfort and sanity in dreaming for the future. From “Summer 2020” to “Almeda,” these songs have brought me that comfort and sanity. Comfort in remembering sadness as a necessary part of life, and sanity in shifting my focus back to the very present. Not present politics, or present events; but to the present as in me typing this, or of you reading this. Of us existing and consciously making decisions that design our day to day. There’s power in our very existence, so make sure to recognize it.

         Of course, appreciation of the existential doesn’t really do it for you when all you really want to do is go out and party. You’ll find some head bangers, hip whines and other high energy hits that have me hyping myself up in the mirror. Jumping around the room alone may not have the same feeling as a mosh pit, but it’s much safer (besides, who likes the feeling of sweaty skin?). Go ahead, play through “Coño (James Kennedy Remix)” to “Walk (Remix)” and let your instincts take over — it’s the only time you can practice your dance moves without judgement. If you’re not one for dancing, yelling at the top of your lungs is also an acceptable use of this section. With a mix of old bangers, foreign beats and new releases, any need for crowded dark rooms can be satisfied with a party of one (or few). For those pressed to leave the house, turn the bass up in your car, max the volume and hit the interstate (a special mention to “HUNNIES,” “Don’t Come Out The House,” “Sugar” and “Riverdale Rd”).

         When you’re otherwise feeling sad (let’s be honest, “sad boi hours” is 24 hours now), “9” to “Home (Remix)” is here to keep you company through the tears. Sometimes a heartbroken song and self-pity is all we can manage through the day, and that is okay. As a hopeless romantic myself, I’ve thrown in a couple of my favorite love songs. If you’re in a relationship, I hope this helps you through the separation, and for my singles, through the disappointing Hinge chats. Finally, I’ve ended the playlist like I end my day — with meditation.