HB Live Produced A Virtual Concert For Caring For SCSU’s Alumni Relations
Southern Connecticut State University is one of many organizations grappling with the current pandemic situation. SCSU Alumni Relations sought to keep in touch with alum and thank those who are doing so much to help the school, but didn’t know where to start.
“We were thinking about, what can we do instead of a regular event?” said Michelle Rocheford Johnston, Director of Donor Relations and Advancement Events. “A lot of us were researching online and Greg Bernard [a colleague] happened to see a concert, and he showed it to all of us. And we all agreed that this was cool, and something our audience would love!” So, they decided to hold a Virtual Concert to celebrate their frontline healthcare and education alumni, the class of 2020 graduates, and donors.
Once SCSU had decided on a virtual direction, the inevitable questions came up: “Can we do this ourselves? What happens if something goes wrong?” It was at that point they decided to reach out to HB Live.
Don Guzauckas, Vice President of HB Live, told Johnston that, “We have been putting on live events and providing our clients with web streaming for years. When COVID-19 hit, we pivoted from live, in-person events to live, virtual events.” And while virtual concerts are streamed “live” on the web, they are rarely live. Most, if not all, are prerecorded which was how HB Live decided to produce for SCSU ensuring the best performances possible.
Guzauckas assembled a production team of experienced HB Live staff to talk through the requirements of the concert and map it out technically. Staff Producer Steve McDermott reached out to Johnston to hear her vision in detail and start planning production. Johnston then got to work confirming the performers and filling out the schedule.
Due to COVID-19 concerns, HB Live was prepared to capture the bulk of performances virtually. But as it turned out, most of the performers preferred to come to HB Live’s North Haven, CT studio to lay down their tracks.
Pandemic protocols were in full force as everyone who came to the studio had their temperature taken and wore a mask during their stay—except while performing, of course. To minimize human-to-human contact, HB Live was staffed at a minimum with McDermott managing the talent and sole Technician, Alex DiMauro, overseeing all other aspects of the recording sessions.
The biggest challenge was producing the closing act: the virtual performance of the SCSU choir. Each singer would have to record in front of a smartphone while performing their part. The trick was syncing up all of these voices, recorded individually, and then transforming them into a cohesive ensemble. HB Live worked closely with Choir Director Dr. Terese Gemme to develop a plan that got everyone singing from the same page. When finished, the result was magical.
SCSU promoted the Concert for Caring via social media, email, and a beautiful postcard. During the show, a chat feature on the concert webpage allowed fans and friends in the audience to “talk” about the performances in real time, adding to the excitement of the event which went off flawlessly.
SCSU’s Concert for Caring was well received. When asked how it went, Johnston was already talking about planning the next concert. “I want to start soon!” she said.