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The Antelope

Fine arts closes curtains on normal routine

Photo by Kosuke Yoshii 

This semester is already presenting many challenges for all students and professors. The UNK Department of Music, Theatre, and Dance is determined to make the best of the situation. 

John Petzet, professor of music and director of choral activities, is optimistic about starting the semester.

“This is a chance to walk through a transitional period that will strengthen us,” Petzet said.

Despite the changes, directors are happy students will still have the chance to perform. 

Extra steps will be taken to ensure that everyone is social distancing, and masks will be worn when possible. In addition, large ensembles will be split into smaller groups for rehearsing, and surfaces will be sanitized after use. 

There are also some restrictions regarding the amount of time a group can spend in a classroom, and time must be given for the air system to exchange the air in that room. 

The Pride of the Plains Marching band is conducting all rehearsals outdoors to reduce contact. Duane Bierman, professor of music and Director of Bands said the department has put a lot of work into determining these practices.

“We are following guidelines from aerosol studies done at the University of Colorado and the University of Maryland as to use of indoor spaces for instrumental rehearsals,” Bierman said. “We have been following this research and all associated meetings, webinars, and reports throughout the summer to be ready for in-person music making again.”

This semester’s performances will also be somewhat unusual. All performances will be livestreamed on the department’s web page ( 

Bands, choirs and the theatre program are each planning on two performances prior to Thanksgiving. Instead of playing at sporting events, the marching band will post performance videos on social media.

Even though some groups are going to be split into smaller sections, whether just for rehearsals or overall, professors still want to maintain the number of students from the previous year. 

This is creating some unique possibilities for students and professors.

“I view it as an opportunity to get to know each other better within smaller groups,”

Petzet said. “This gives everyone a chance to share and build their own individual musicianship.”

Petzet said choir rehearsals and performances will have a “more relaxed atmosphere.” He is optimistic that the choirs can overcome any obstacles, and he is looking forward to

working with students in person again.

Wind ensemble will involve student composers this semester.

“We are collaborating with the composition students at UNK for our December concert,

which is very exciting,” Bierman said. “The students will write works for us and get the opportunity to collaborate with the students in the band.”

Brian Alber, professor of music and assistant director of bands, wants students to grow and learn throughout the season.

“We will be utilizing our students to write and teach drill, as we will continue to focus on the creative and educational outcomes that are embodied within the Pride of the Plains,” Alber said.

After a spring and summer of being apart, performing together in groups of any size will be a welcome activity for those who enjoy participating.

“We need communal singing now more than ever,” Petzet said. “It serves as a great time for people to find relaxation, solace, and therapy in our ensembles.”

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