Saints and Anteaters together in Music during COVID-19

2020 was going to be the year that the annual combined concert, comprised of the UCI Symphony Orchestra and the Santa Ana High School (SAHS) Symphony Orchestra, "went bigger" and became the "Triple Jubilee." The ensembles were poised to perform in the Downtown Santa Ana Arts District on the 2nd Street Promenade. The faculty and students were going to have the opportunity to connect with the City of Santa Ana and local businesses. They were going to be able to share their talents with the broader community. But how do musicians rehearse together when they can't BE together? How do educators keep young musicians engaged in music when they can't practice at home?

On March 17, 2020, one day after UCI's campus-wide work from home operations began, the Santa Ana High School Music Partnership team met via Zoom.

"What began as a simple check-in with our longtime partners to see how everyone was doing on a human level, quickly became a planning meeting to discuss how to continue to serve our respective communities, support, and center student voices, and enhance our work together in innovative ways," said Megan Belmonte, director of outreach programs for CTSA.

SAHS music teachers, Joseph Kaye and Victor de los Santos, checked out instruments to their students to take home, a special compensation to accommodate remote teaching during the COVID-19 pandemic. They developed strategies for teaching using Instagram, YouTube, Google Classroom, and other free online resources.

The UCI Symphony Orchestra, led by Dr. Stephen Tucker, used Zoom to hold their regular rehearsals. Dr. Tucker and members of the symphony hosted the first Zoom Master Class for SAHS musicians on April 24, one of the few opportunities to hold a candid session during the separation. CTSA student teaching artists hosted music listening sessions, coached via Zoom, recorded tutorials, and critiqued their SAHS musicians through recordings. Instead of the live side-by-side annual concert, and with the help of click tracks developed by Kaye and Santos, SAHS and CTSA musicians recorded themselves playing three compositions that the SAHS teachers edited together and included in SAHS' virtual graduation ceremony in late May.

“Though the tools the orchestra implements to collaborate with students have changed, our commitment to the partnership and to supporting SAHS has not wavered. Continuing to support the program and student engagement remains paramount for both schools. We look forward to the day when they can all be together once again,” said Dr. Stephen Tucker, conductor of the UCI Symphony Orchestra.

View the performance presented on the SAHS Graduation video (beginning at marker 30:17). An exemplary example of Saints and Anteaters coming together to make beautiful music.

UCI Symphony Orchestra and the Santa Ana High School Symphony Orchestra performance contributions.

  • When You Believe – 00:21
  • Star Spangled Banner – 4:51
  • SAHS Alma Mater – 1:18:02
  • Credits – 1:28:27


Posted Date: 
Thursday, June 4, 2020