Artists find ways to improvise

Being in front of live audiences isn't an option at the moment, so local musicians Carrie Vecchione and Rolf Erdahl -- who perform as "OboeBass!" -- will do a livestreamed concert at 7 p.m. Friday at PerformingArts.Live.

Livestreamed concerts to online art lessons are part of the plan during pandemic

Musicians Carrie Vecchione and Rolf Erdahl have performed at concert venues large and small, across Minnesota, the Midwest and the nation.

The one place they never thought they’d do a show? Home.

Like so many people in so many occupations, the pandemic has required them to adapt. The Apple Valley-based couple, who perform as “OboeBass!”, can’t go to their patrons, but the patrons can come to them. That’s what will happen Friday, May 8, when they do a livestream concert at 7 p.m. on PerformingArts.Live. The concert is free to view, and there will be links on the site to donate to the performers.

The duo also teach, Vecchione at MacPhail Center for Music and Erdahl at Gustavus Adolphus College. Both have performed with local symphonies and subbed with the Minnesota Orchestra. They have released six CDs. But performances in front of live audiences have gone away, at least for the near future.

“We’ve lost all of the live shows because of the pandemic, and that’s really been hard,” Vecchione said. “We’ve had to take another look at how we do performances, but we’re finding things we can do online that we can continue to do even after we’re able to perform in front of audiences again.”

Livestreamed concerts might allow Vecchione and Erdahl to take their music to a wider audience. OboeBass! bills itself as “the world’s only professional oboe/bass duo,” and that’s not just hype because there was little music available for the two instruments in concert. Vecchione (oboe) and Erdahl (bass), have commissioned more than 40 pieces for oboe and bass. Their work combines elements of classical music with other genres such as jazz, bluegrass and folk.

Vecchione and Erdahl didn’t have a recording studio in their home, thinking that would never be necessary. They’ve spent time the last several weeks finding microphones, microphone stands and becoming acquainted with audio engineering.

They have done a couple other livestreamed performances – one where they couldn’t see anybody who was listening and one on Zoom for a private group. “We know people are listening,” Vecchione said, “but it’s fun to see somebody in a (monitor) window hitting the ‘like’ button. You’re thinking, ‘Oh, yeah, there are people out there.’”

Friday’s livestream concert, expected to run about 40 minutes, will start with two works for OboeBass! composed by Timothy Goplerud. The conclusion is “American Vein” by Valerie Coleman, intended to be a cross-country musical journey from California’s redwood forests to New York’s Ellis Island.

The concert also allows OboeBass! to continue an important business commitment. A grant from the Chamber Music America Classical Commissioning Program, with funding by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, made “American Vein” possible.

To fulfill the terms of the grant, OboeBass! needs to perform “American Vein” at least three times during the year. Vecchione and Erdahl had done one performance before a live audience before performing arts facilities starting shutting down nationwide. Vecchione said she and Erdahl have been assured online performances will count toward the commitment.

Art at home

Events at the Lakeville Area Arts Center have been canceled through May. That includes “Heathers: The Musical,” performed by Lakeville-based The Play’s the Thing Productions. The show was to begin a two-weekend run Friday night.

But, the center wanted to continue its engagement with art in any way possible. It created a series of virtual classes and online art videos. “We hope that creating art will provide an outlet for others as it has for us,” according to an LAAC news release.

Offerings include an online art journaling workshop introducing watercolor doodling, which can be done at home using common art supplies. The LAAC also has “Art Kits To-Go,” with a pre-sketched canvas, step-by-step instructions, paints and brushes. Once kits are purchased, pickup is arranged at the front entrance of Lakeville City Hall.

The LAAC also developed free online videos introducing home art projects for children. Videos can be accessed through the arts center website, LakevilleAreaArtsCenter.com, or on Facebook.

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