[email protected] performances give students, diners a sense of normalcy in Covid-19 world
Longy School of Music has capitalized on temperate fall weather to give students a socially distanced platform for performance at Harvard Square’s Sheraton Commander Hotel.
Inside the hotel’s sleek yet intimate restaurant, Nubar, Longy students, faculty and alumni are invited to perform for diners Thursdays and Fridays through Nov. 29 as part of a series dubbed “[email protected]” Diners enjoy free entertainment, while Longy community members are afforded a rare chance to perform live in a pandemic-stricken world.
Emily Arkin, associate director of web, media and public relations for Longy, spoke about the Covid-friendly series and the school’s plans to adapt programming as winter approaches.
This conversation has been edited and condensed for publication.
How did Longy’s partnership with Nubar transpire?
Longy is lucky enough to have Michael Guleserian, general manager of the Sheraton Commander, as a member of our board of governors. Because of Covid, Longy needed extra space to continue with our courses while complying with social distancing measures. The Sheraton stepped up to support us. Additionally, the Sheraton has provided Longy students, faculty and alumni an opportunity for outdoor performances at the hotel’s restaurant, Nubar.
It is a blessing to have this relationship. Our students have enjoyed being able to share their talents.
How are the performances held while being mindful of Covid restrictions?
All Covid safety measures are being carefully followed. Musicians are required to be masked at all times, and the stage has been built more than 6 feet from all guests. The stage can socially distance two performers, so we have only been having solo or duo performances.
With winter approaching, are there plans to take this outdoor event indoors?
Yes! We have already had to think ahead, as rainy weather has forced Nubar’s patio to close at times. There is a section inside Nubar that can serve as a stage that is both socially distanced from guests and affords the musicians appropriate distance from their fellow performers.
Sadly, safety restrictions have prohibited us from using our talented vocalists, brass and woodwind players while indoors, but we are thankful to have this opportunity to showcase our other departments.
How has the community responded?
The reception has been extremely positive from guests and performers. Attendance has been high, especially when the weather is nice. No two nights are the same, and those joining us come ready to be excited by what our community has to offer. Our Jazz & Contemporary Music department has been an especially wonderful resource – they fit the ambiance of the restaurant so well, but push the envelope with new composers and exciting improv. This, combined with peppering in classical sonatas, unexpected combinations and even pop melodies, makes for a lively evening.
The students have especially loved being involved. It is heartwarming to see students supporting each other when they come to see their friends perform.
With the weather getting colder and moving indoors, attendance might see a drop, but we are hopeful that the warmth of the restaurant and the music will continue to bring in guests and community members.