Music students create a way to share live performances—from a distance

Thursday, April 16, 2020

by Cami Yates

In times when social distancing is necessary, collaborating on projects may seem difficult for artists. But students from the Butler School of Music did not let that stop them from continuing to be creative together.

Less Than <10 is a collective of musicians from Austin scattered across the country in their own homes. They livestream concerts on Twitch to raise hope and awareness for musicians struggling during this time of uncertainty. The program runs 45 minutes to an hour in length and averages around 70 viewers.

James Tabata, a graduate composer and bass player, is the artistic director of Less Than <10. This project was his immediate response to COVID-19 cancelling performances and work opportunities for artists. They perform in a mix of genres, such as classical repertoire, contemporary music, indie songs, jazz performed as solos or duets and even group performances of up to 14 people in a segment called More than >10.

“This system has been very engaging and has allowed us to create more personal, enlightening and visually stimulating performances than if we were streaming live in a recital hall,” Tabata said.

The musicians pre-record their part of the piece that will be broadcast that week and send their work to Tabata and Francis Favis, a graduate percussionist, to sync up the audio and video.

Top row left to right: Francis Favis, James Tabata, Sean Riley, Nathan Nokes (piano)

Bottom or row left to right: Alan Retamozo, Kyle Jones, Page Stephens, Jordan Walsh, Elizabeth Kilpatrick

Elizabeth Kilpatrick, the only undergraduate senior violinist on the project, serves as the artistic coordinator for the program. She reaches out to the musicians and gives them the information and timeline that they need for the next virtual concert. She also performs in the concerts.

“The biggest difficulty is doing a piece that requires more than one person,” Kilapatrick said. “Some of the benefits that I’ve seen are that we’ve gotten so creative. We would have never done something like this without being forced to.”

Their goal is to raise and donate funds that they receive from their livestream for the artistic community in Austin suffering from the pandemic, especially those who have lost a portion of their income for the foreseeable future. So far, they’ve managed to raise more than $500 and donated the funds to Austin Creative Alliance.

“We strive to be a symbol of resilience and innovation, showing the world that, despite the crisis, we can come together from a distance and make something new and inspiring,” Tabata said.

Donate here and keep track of their upcoming performances every Thursday at 7:30 p.m.

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