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First-ever Notre Dame Music Festival allows student groups to perform in pandemic

| Thursday, September 24, 2020

Over 500 student vocalists and musicians are about to be “Rock’n the House that Rockne built,” which is the slogan for the first ever Notre Dame Music Festival to be held Thursday night in Notre Dame Stadium. 

Twelve campus music groups will perform from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. Gate E opens at 6:30 p.m and all tri-campus students are invited to enjoy the performances and free food trucks. 

Attendees are encouraged to bring blankets to sit on the football field. Only students will be allowed into the stadium; however, the entire event be livestreamed.

Office of VP-University relations associate vice president Jim Small said the event grew out of the concern that student performance groups would not have the opportunity to perform in front of live audiences this semester. 

“Opening up Notre Dame Stadium for this event gave us the platform for the groups to perform in front of a crowd,” Small said in an email. “And then with the capabilities of ND Studios, we’re able to broadcast this live to the Notre Dame family, all over the world. Everyone wins.”

The music festival is a collaborative effort between the Student Activities Office (SAO), the Division for Student Affairs and University Relations. 

To safeguard against the virus, all performers will wear masks and be physically distanced. 

The Notre Dame Glee Club, the all male a capella ensemble, will open the festival. President and senior Philip Lally said the group has been able to rehearse this semester with masks and distancing outside. The Glee Club will sing from their classic game day repertoire of Notre Dame fight songs and Irish tunes.

“It’s really fun to rehearse, but it’s so much more to share what we have rehearsed with people who haven’t heard us yet, and to perform in front of a live audience,” he said.  

Lally said the club was not sure they were going to perform at all this year, and Thursday’s event will be the first time for the club’s new members.

“It’s a blessing and an absolute joy,” Lally said. 

The Notre Dame Drumline will then take the stage, where they will lead the crowd in fight songs, cadences and cheers. 

“Especially with all the things we’ve heard from other schools, I’m so blessed to perform with the drummer family,” senior and drumline section leader Audrey Femrite said.

The group plans to hype up the crowd, just as they do on game days.

“We’ll jam out,” Femrite said. 

Later in the evening, Notre Dame Chorale will perform a medley of its arrangements including ancient Irish folk songs and “Hike, Notre Dame,” among others. 

Chorale is the official concert choir of Notre Dame. The co-ed group of around 60 members perform classics from the Renaissance to the present. 

“This will be Chorale’s first live performance since the pandemic shut down the University last spring,” Chorale director Alexander Blachly said in an email. “We plan to make recordings later in the fall, but no live performances aside from the Music Festival are on the horizon.”

Closing the concert will be the Notre Dame Symphony Orchestra. Director Daniel Stowe said the group will be playing “a few lighter classical pieces,” including selections from Carmen and Brahms. 

The orchestra and many other musical groups have been rehearsing in a tent by DeBartolo Performing Arts Center all semester.

The Festival event is our first concert of the term,” Stowe said in an email.

The group plans on hosting an outdoor concert on the Irish Green next Saturday. 

Other groups performing throughout the night include the a capella groups and choirs Halftime, the Echoes, the Undertones, Notre Dame Folk Choir, Voices of Faith, Notre Dame Magnificat Choir, Notre Dame Liturgical Choir and the Gold & Blue Company. 

Especially because we can no longer sing for the 11:45 a.m. Sunday Mass at the Basilica, our normal ministry, having the chance to sing for people in person was such a wonderful opportunity,” Folk Choir secretary and senior Claire Whalen said in an email.

The group, who specializes in a diverse range of music to represent all of the “folk” of the Church, will perform three songs from their traditional repertoire including “Christ be our Light” and “Hallelujah My Father.” 

“We are excited because this could be one of our only opportunities to perform live,” senior Calais Nobuhara, president of co-ed a capella group The Echoes said.

The group writes their own arrangements of all genres from pop to rap to ballads and will sing “Honeymoon Avenue” by Ariana Grande, “River” by Leon Bridges and “Break My Heart” by Dua Lipa, which Nobuhara said is “kinda our homage to summer 2020.”

Calais hoped many students come to view the performances of all of the groups.

“This event has never really happened before, and this is such a cool collaboration of so many different music groups,” she said. “Even in non-COVID years, this is so exciting.”


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About Isabella Volmert

Isabella "Issy" Volmert is a junior majoring in English and minoring in theology and journalism, ethics and democracy at the University of Notre Dame. She currently serves The Observer as assistant managing editor. Follow her @ivolmertnews for niche JED Twitter content.

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