On Tuesday the 12th May, RASA’s Music Society hosted their first online live music event: the Music Poetry Screen Light Night (MPSLN). Twelve talented performers used the webinar platform Zoom to share their poetry, their piano pieces, guitar solos and their vocals with an audience of more than forty viewers.
We knew that hosting a live music event online would pose several challenges: technical difficulties as the obvious one, but also the fact that the MPSLN would replace our regular Music Poetry Candle Light Nights and our Open Mics. The former is held in an intimate setting lit with fairy lights, the latter in a local live music venue that always turns into one big party. These events are very popular throughout UCR, and when we first raised the idea of an online live music event, I had some qualms. Was it possible to generate the same feelings of connectedness that are the essence of these events, when we aren’t in the same room, or even the same country? Would we be able to inspire the RASA Viking spirit?
I must admit I was very nervous about how the event would go. One of my favorite responsibilities as a Music Society board member is to welcome everybody to the event and introduce the performers, and in this event it was no different. I began by playing a slideshow of my favorite photos of our events from the past year, with a welcome message for everyone, whilst sipping a gin-and-tonic (very British, I know). My boardies were on hand to help: Emma was ready to introduce performers whilst Nina and Janneke managed the practical side of things, ensuring the current performers were in the ‘spotlight’ on Zoom, meaning everyone could see them, whilst letting the next performers know they were due at any moment.
My initial qualms were for nothing. The Zoom ‘chat’ was a seemingly endless outpouring of positivity, with audience members praising performers for their creativity and their talents. Everyone entered into the spirit of the event wholeheartedly, appreciating every effort made to help them enjoy it. I must thank Professor Sanja Antonides for her enthusiasm and commitment to ensuring this event went ahead: she was the driving force behind it, figuring out the technicalities of Zoom, hosting the sound check on the day of the event, and encouraging us in coordinating performers. She even performed herself, a fantastic rendition of an Amy Winehouse classic with guitar and vocals.
The main reason I love being the host of these events is that it gives me a chance to personally thank each performer for giving up their time to rehearse and for sharing their talent with us, because for me, they symbolize the epitome of the RASA spirit and what I love most about UCR: the community. Music is present in our lives in the highest of highs and the lowest of lows, and Music Society events offer the chance to come together and share these with each other. I closed our MPSLN with more thank yous, to the performers, the audience, Sanja, and my boardies. I had tears in my eyes and felt incredibly proud and happy. The RASA Viking spirit was very much present in our determination to provide something wonderful for others to enjoy, it was in the coming together and sharing this beautiful experience, and in the warmth and love with which we related to each other. The event was a complete success.