The University of Miami's Frost School of Music and the City of Coral Gables have joined forces to provide weekly moments of musical relief.
The Live at Home in the City Beautiful virtual concert series features Frost faculty, students, and alumni in performance every Monday and Wednesday at 6 p.m. on Coral Gables' Instagram channel.
The mini-concerts, which will continue through the month of May, are part of UM's efforts to fill the gap in actual live performances. The school's other online programs include Friday Nights @ Frost, a series featuring Frost Music Live concerts from this past season; and #FrostiesPerformForU, with at-home performances posted by students, faculty, and alumni on the school's Instagram and Facebook accounts. (There's a YouTube Channel compilation at tinyurl.com/FrostiesPlaylist.)
"Music unites and heals," says Patricia San Pedro, executive director of marketing and communications at the Frost School of Music. "If you have any doubt, all you have to do is look at the videos coming out of Italy and Spain, of people playing their instruments and singing from their balconies. Such beauty amid such sadness and uncertainty. So at the Frost School of Music, we wanted to do something that would offer the healing and joy and hope in music, while at the same time giving our students, alumni, and faculty a stage where they could share their art until the curtain rises again."
The collaboration with the city also underscores a confluence of interests between business and music.
For attracting new businesses, "the things that we offer as a city, a good quality of life, arts and culture and all the amenities, are most important," says Belkys Perez, assistant director of the Coral Gables Economic Development Department. "This city has five live theaters that cater to different audiences and numerous concert halls as well. So when coronavirus hit, we wanted to step in and do something for our community. UM was a natural partner, so I immediately reached out to the dean of the Frost School of Music."
The series began just a few days later, premiering April 1.
The programs have showcased classical music, Broadway, and jazz and provided "an opportunity for our residents, for the community, in general, to sit back and catch their breath away from all of the craziness happening around us," Perez says. "Our goal is for you to sit back with a smile and maybe expose yourself to some music that you might not have thought about in the past."
For established musicians and UM students alike, the virtual concerts offer an outlet during a period of social distancing, as well as a chance to explore the future of live performances long after the pandemic fades away.
"One of the blessings in all this for our students has been that they're learning a lot of new skills," San Pedro says. "They're having to be a lot more innovative and learn more about technology, and that's going to help them. That's going to enhance their learning and their career."
Still, weeks without a chance to perform, and no end in sight, pose a serious challenge.
There are "students and alumni and faculty for whom this is their life, this is their passion," San Pedro says. "Performing live was taken away from them just like that, in one fell swoop. This [series] was a way to give them a stage. We hope that this situation is going to create an even greater appreciation of live music when we go back to the new normal."
Live at Home in the City Beautiful Virtual Concert Series. 6 to 6:15 p.m. Mondays and Wednesdays through the end of May via @instagram.com/cityofcoralgables.
—Fernando Gonzalez, ArtburstMiami.com