Kol Sasson members singing on Zoom. Photo courtesy of Kol Sasson.
By Courtney Cohn
Kol Sasson, an a capella group at this university, is releasing online “Quarantunes” performances for their audience to enjoy while adhering to current coronavirus safety measures.
After they released their first video on March 25 following the cancelation of the group’s spring break tour, they realized that events would be virtual for a long time. The group sang the song “Expensive” by Tori Kelly via Zoom. Another video they posted last semester was a performance of the song “Trampoline” by SHAED. They plan to release more videos this semester as well.
Rebecca Ashkenazy, a junior psychology major and one of Kol Sasson’s musical coordinators, has expertise in video editing, so she was one of the catalysts for the idea. Her previous role in the group was social media and video editing, and she is able to utilize those skills in her new position now.
“I thought like: hey, I’m a video editor, I know how to do a split-screen type of video using Adobe Premiere, so we have the resources to make a video. As soon as I came up with the idea, I messaged the group about it and everyone was super on-board,” she said.
Askenazy, who produces the final products for these virtual performances, said she faces technical challenges in the editing process.
“The hardest part was putting everything together, so like syncing the audio clips, and making everyone have their own box on the screen,” Ashkenazy said.
During the two days before their first video was released, she spent all of her time editing to ensure it would be released as soon as possible. In fact, Kol Sasson was one of the first a cappella groups on campus to release a virtual performance video, which turned out to be one of the silver linings of the situation.
Because it was released earlier on, their video stood out, which allowed the group to gain more followers and recognition as they were featured in the Terp Talent Showcase and Hillel International’s Facebook page. They were also able to reach a wider audience on social media than they necessarily would have at one live performance.
Many members are glad that these performances are reaching a wider audience, but still miss performing in person. Notably, the members who joined Kol Sasson last semester did not get to have their first performance with the group for a live audience, which was not what they expected.
“When you think of your first performance with an a capella group, you think of a stage, you think of an audience, you think of a feeling of singing with a group, but instead it was me filming myself doing my part on my own,” Keren Binyamin, sophomore management and marketing major said.
Both new members and experienced members needed to adjust to having rehearsals in an online format. They hold rehearsals twice a week over zoom, utilizing breakout rooms to allow members to practice with their sectional leaders. Kol Sasson faces issues such as sound lag and not being able to hear anyone other than the singers next to them, according to some members.
“We’ve just had to be really creative coming up with things for rehearsals,” Ashkenazy said.
They have had to focus more on practicing individual performances, as each member submits their own video to be paired with the rest of the group. This is a significant change since the members are used to adjusting based on the voices around them.
“It was hard to transition between singing as a group and singing our parts alone, but it has helped us work on our individual parts, so we can be even better when we are back together,” said Kol Sasson President Hannah Wandersman, a junior supply chain management and marketing major.
The group has also increased their focus on individual work in their social media series, #SingMyPart, where various members sing their parts from the group’s new album “In the Moment.” They released the album on Aug. 6 and have posted these videos on their Instagram to continue promoting their album.
While Kol Sasson’s reason for performing songs virtually was initially to promote their new album and keep their audience engaged, they have also used this as a way to stay connected during a time characterized by social distancing and isolation.
“I am really proud of how Kol Sasson was able to pivot to a virtual model during this time so we can still be together as a family, even if it is virtually,” Wandersman said.