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The Antelope

UNK students, faculty choose to make music despite virus

Anthony Donofrio made scheduling changes to make the festival still possible.


This year’s New Music Festival was different than usual, but it ended in success. Performers still shared their music last weekend despite COVID-19.

Anthony Donofrio, professor of music and director of the New Music Festival was flexible in changing the schedule to accommodate new obstacles caused by the virus.

“We are an art that deals with sound, so therefore people should hear it,” Donofrio said. “If the campus isn’t going to close, we might as well continue.”

The headliner, Nois, and other composers and performers from populated cities such as Chicago, Boston, and Nashville were planning on attending the festival but decided not to come in order to protect the health of people at UNK. The only outside performers that still attended the festival were from Nebraska. The rest of the performances were by UNK students and faculty. 

Four pieces on the festival were world premieres, two of which were written by UNK student composers Samuel Rosenau and Terran Homburg. This was the first time for both students to have one of their works performed.

“It was a very new experience,” Rosenau said. “I’ve been a performance major for three years, and this is the first of my compositions that has ever gotten played.”

As a senior, these were some of Rosenau’s last performances at UNK. He is disappointed that the year is ending so soon, but he is excited to begin his graduate studies in the fall. Rosenau’s senior recital will be livestreamed on the UNK website on May 3rd at 3:00pm.

Homburg, a junior, is looking forward to putting another piece on the festival next year. 

“After finally seeing that performing aspect of what I’ve written, I don’t think I can stop doing that now,”

 Homburg said. 

UNK performers and audience members were not particularly concerned about sickness because they all operate in close relation to one another on any given day. It is appreciated, though, that the out-of-sate performers decided not to come. 

“The people that decided to stay home are looking out for the bigger picture and the greater good,” Donofrio said. “A lot of us worked really hard on the pieces, and if we have the ability to perform them, we should.”

According to Donofrio, everyone that was unable to come to this year’s New Music Festival will make it to UNK in the future, including Nois, who will be next year’s headliner.

Concerts that were set to take place after spring break have been cancelled as UNK transitions to online classes, which will be quite a change for music students.

“I think we’ve made the best of an unprecedented situation,” Homburg said. “I’m glad we [still had] the New Music Festival because I think it is the last piece of normal we’re going to get for a while.”

Despite health concerns, audience members were still able to attend the festival and support our performers. The New Music Festival was also livestreamed, and as many as 173 viewers tuned in. Donofrio was especially pleased with the turnout, although he expressed that it is not about the number of people that watch. The music itself is what is important, and Donofrio said that if the music performed made even one listener happy, then the festival was a success. 

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