By Jordan Meiland
Professor Rebecca Haviland at the beginning of the stream. Photo by Jordan Meiland.
On Friday, Feb. 26th, Purchase students and faculty tuned in to the first Music & Technology Festival showcase of the semester.
Hosted by Professor Rebecca Haviland, the event was live streamed on YouTube and Facebook. It featured four live performances and three pre-recorded performances of original work by current Conservatory of Music students.
A little after 7 p.m., the stream began. With an emerald green Silvertone guitar at the ready and 16 more on the walls behind her, Haviland welcomed everyone to the stream. She thanked her audience for tuning in and spoke about what to expect for the evening.
“This showcase is the first of three that we’re going to be doing this semester here at the Purchase College Conservatory of Music,” she explained. “This specific showcase is going to show-off some of the next generation of songwriters and performers from the Music and Technology Department.”
Interestingly, Haviland herself was the first performer of the night. Live, on stream, she debuted an original song titled “Daylight”. The song made use of finger-picking techniques, a reverb audio effect, and featured many high and low notes to showcase her vocal range and abilities. As she performed, the live chat below the stream lit up with excitement and words of encouragement from viewers. Some of them would be performing later in the evening.
“It’s a song that I wrote about New York City,” she said. “A song I’ve been wanting to write for a very long time. New York City has a very special place in my heart as a native New Yorker. It’s a place I don’t plan on ever leaving.”
Julia Klot performing. Photo by Jordan Meiland.
After Haviland’s performance, she welcomed Julia Klot, the first student performer of the night, to the stream. Seated before a keyboard in an empty dorm room, the senior studio composition major began her three-song set.
Klot opened with “Cry”, a song that was supposed to appear on a full-length album she was planning on recording before the COVID-19 pandemic hit. Her second song was “I Never Cared”, which appears on her album "Brooklyn." She closed with “Ghost”, a single being released on March 1.
“This is the first set I’ve performed in over a year,” the contemporary pop artist said after the stream. “It was great to be able to showcase my work and for students to come together and share work with one another in a time where live performance just isn’t possible the way it used to be. It’s really nice to see what other students are working on creatively during a time that has been so difficult for me to find creative inspiration.”
Professor Haviland (left) and Niko Kazacos (right) discussing Kazacos’ video and song. Photo by Jordan Meiland.
Next up was Niko Kazacos, a senior studio composition major, premiering his music video titled “Forgive Me”. After a brief chat with Professor Haviland, who reappeared after Klot’s set, the music video was brought up onto the screen.
The video was a combination of nature shots with inverted colors, and flashing, mirrored visuals and shapes. It paired well with the song, which was an electronic piece with a steady beat, looping synthesizers, and auto tuned vocals.
“This piece encompasses a lot of ideas,” he explained to Haviland before the video played. “I got pretty much the whole thing except for mixing done in like one day and it was a pretty organic process. I was happy with the weird nature that came out of it. I wrote it about my own motivation.”
“Forgive Me” is available for streaming March 30.
Professor Haviland (left) and Andrew Alford (right) discussing “Art of War”. Photo by Jordan Meiland.
After Kazacos, Andrew Alford, a freshman studio composition major, was brought onto the stream. It was his second time taking part in this event and this time, he’d written a modern orchestral composition titled “Art of War."
“It’s almost a piece in two parts,” he explained to Haviland before playing the composition. “The first part is very militant and aggressive. The second part really slows it down abruptly and it’s much more serene and calming.”
The first half of “Art of War'' included loud percussion and brass instruments, while the second half was very woodwind and string focused. The composition’s accompanying video, a looping bright orange mist visual, was also put together by Alford. The strong composition made for a fascinating viewing and listening experience.
“It was awesome to go on again,” he said in an exchange after the stream, “as well as hearing the amazing music of fellow Purchase students.”
Elaine Rojas performing. Photo by Jordan Meiland.
The next performer was Elaine Rojas, a senior studio composition major. Haviland welcomed her to the stream and then disappeared to give Rojas center stage.
The R&B and alternative artist performed a short live set with two songs. She opened with “Draw a Line”, which she performed for the first time ever. According to her, it was written about creating boundaries in a relationship. Her second song was “Sweetest (Love I Could Ever Want)”, which normally features additional instrumentation and vocals. But this time, the song, which was written about her fiancé, was performed with just a piano and her voice. Both songs had plenty of spirited vocals, strong lyricism, and instrumentation that complimented her voice well.
“I just can’t rave enough about the Music and Technology Program at Purchase,” she said before her set. “It has completely shaped and nurtured my artistic journey and I’m just really grateful.”
"Sweetest (Love I Could Ever Want)" is out now on all streaming platforms.
Professor Haviland (left) and Banner Reed (right) discussing “444”. Photo by Jordan Meiland.
Following Rojas’ performance, Haviland returned and welcomed Banner Reed, a freshman studio composition major, to the stream. Reed was the final pre-recorded performer of the night, sharing the music video for their song “444”, which was released under their artist name Green Tea Party on December 24 in 2020.
The hyperpop/alternative artist’s song featured a myriad of audio effects including auto tuned vocals, backing harmonies, and a steady but not overpowering beat that guided the song effortlessly. It also had a guest feature from Alternative artist Lil Scuti.
The music video for “444” was just as immersive as the song. It was shot on a VHS camera by Reed and Chloe Smith, a film major. The video depicted Reed wandering around campus and performing towards the camera, while Scuti’s performance features her in a bedroom. Multiple visual filters, lens distortions, and text commentary in all kinds of fonts can be found throughout the music video. One text, which read “i wrote this song about the boy who broke my heart” appeared 30 seconds into the video, clearly stating the meaning behind the song.
“We went out and shot it on VHS, which was amazing,” they recalled before playing the video. “Conceptually, I was bouncing between this ‘FaceTime’ idea and I shifted to more of a TV show approach. It gave a very ‘Spike TV’ kind of feel, which I really liked.”
In an exchange after the stream, Reed expressed their joy in being part of the stream:
“I was super excited to participate in such a great event,” they explained. “Our program has such a diverse and cool coalition of musicians all working together. So many different sounds and worlds of music collide here, which is why I love the program so much. I can't wait to see where the music takes all of us and can't wait to be back to playing live music.”
Eli Shane performing. Photo by Jordan Meiland.
The last student performer of the night was Eli Shane. The singer/songwriter performed a live set consisting of three songs.
Seconds after taking the virtual stage, he began strumming and jumped right into his first song “I Will See The Sea”, which was brand new. After a quick guitar change, he began his next song “Sledgehammer”. Following that song, as he tuned his guitar, he thanked Professor Haviland and gave a shoutout to all the performers that played before him. He closed his set with “The View”, a song off his debut EP "Flip on Fiona."
Shane suggested that he was working on new material and that both “I Will See The Sea” and “Sledgehammer” would appear on a future release of his.
When his set finished, Haviland thanked everyone for tuning in and reminded everyone of the two upcoming showcases. The second Music & Technology Festival showcase, on March 26, will feature film scoring and video game creating students. The third showcase, on April 23, will feature all bands.
All the featured students were happy to be part of the event. Viewer turnout peaked at around 55 viewers. And most importantly, the live chat was buzzing the entire time. During each performance, there was a steady stream of support coming from the live chat, whether it be compliments towards the artists, clapping and heart emojis, or even cheers written fully capitalized. The artists themselves were present for the entire stream, supporting their peers in the live chat and thanking the viewers for the overwhelmingly positive feedback they received.
Overall, the stream was a success and proved that even in a pandemic, the performing arts are not only alive, but thriving.
The stream can be found at this link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IHSvKHh5PAI