Student Resources and Fundraisers for the Wolfpack Artist

by. Neha Suresh 

Arts-centric student organizations are an important part of the college experience; they help students pursue their passions and maintain community. Unfortunately, they are just not a priority for the financially-strapped university amidst the pandemic, with groups like Arts NC State experiencing a 17 percent reduction in their budget just by virtue of not selling tickets to events.

Out of necessity, these departments and student organizations have become the unlikely fundraising heroes for both their own art and social causes. They admit that the pandemic may have delayed their ambitions, but it has not derailed them. These creative outlets are now getting innovative in terms of expanding their digital presence, among other fundraising and outreach strategies.

Cover Fundraiser by NCSU Jawaani 

The energizing fusion-acapella group, Jawaani has taken part in events around campus for a few years hoping to eventually participate competitively. To keep their momentum going, they hosted a virtual fundraiser which allowed individuals donating more than $8 to request a personalized cover of a song of their choice from any one of the members. The money raised will be put towards the production of their new album. 

Jawaani performing at Sangeet Saagar in Stewart Theatre pre-COVID.
source: @ncsujawaani

Marissa Koshy, a fourth-year majoring in psychology, functions as the group’s captain. Koshy believes that Jawanni’s multicultural perspective—particularly the focus on South-Asian culture— gives them a special sound as compared to typical acapella groups.

“What makes us unique is that we fuse different music from across genres and languages,” Koshy said.

While COVID-19 has inhibited many performance-based groups from meeting in-person and putting on shows for live audiences, Jawaani has no intention of slowing down any time soon.

“Our priority at this time is the health and safety of our members. We will be meeting virtually and recording audio as well as videos. We are constantly looking for opportunities to collaborate with other groups on campus and across the country,” Koshy said.

State of Sound by NC State Libraries

The State of Sound is an exclusive space for members of the Wolfpack to share their music, podcasts, interviews and sound bytes open to anyone affiliated with NC State.

The Brickyard Broadcast 

The Brickyard Broadcast draws its resources from the State of Sound and Quaranzine, both of which are University Library resources. Brickyard Broadcast uses Virtual Reality (VR) technology to reinterpret the NC State Brickyard as a virtual space in which the musical performances will unfold. Nine separate musical groups will be animated into the various areas of the virtual Brickyard, creating an immersive sound experience for all. 

Lisa Bielawa is the composer and producer for the Brickyard Broadcast and is known for making spatially informed pieces of music.  In response to the pandemic, she launched the ‘Broadcast from Home’ series, creating weekly musical chapters from contributions from all over the world. Followed by the ‘Voters Broadcast’ which shared the world premiere of its first socially-distanced show on October 24, 2020, at the Brooklyn Library. 

She is now working on the Brickyard Broadcast by writing and distributing sections of music and sharing those sections with students who recorded them using resources at home and from an information portal developed by University Libraries. 

“I have reserved a lot of the composing to the end, it is very important to me that part of the process of collaborating is giving them [the students] the freedom to enjoy playing music at home,” Bielawa said. 

Jason Evans Groth, Digital Media Librarian for the Learning Spaces and Services at University Libraries mixed this music along with his team via a digital audio soundstream and implanted it into the VR landscape. 

A map of the VR Brickyard space and where musicians will be moving as digital avatars during the experience.
source: @ncstatemusic

“Anyone, anywhere in the world with internet access can experience this piece in a landscape that was built to replicate an in-person experience,” Groth said. “This makes it accessible and long-lasting, even more so than the video recordings. I am very excited to see this unfold in person as well.” 

Hundreds of audio recordings were integrated and similar to an in-person experience, every audience member’s perspective will be completely unique, depending on how they choose to move among the sounds they hear.

“When a user moves to the left in the VR landscape the sounds are louder and sharper to the left, when moving away from a virtual musical group it gets quieter,” Groth said. “A link will be sent to users, they can keep re-listening to this piece in a new way every time they reopen the link. It will never be the same experience twice.” 

Commissioned and presented by North Carolina State University Department of Music, the show is set to premiere during two separate events on November 12, 2020 at 6 p.m. The show can be accessed from this link

On premiere night, participants will enter the virtual reality Brickyard environment, and experience performances by the NC State orchestras (Raleigh Civic Symphony and Raleigh Civic Chamber Orchestra), the NC State choirs (State Chorale, Vox Accalia and Singing Statesmen), and the Concert Singers of Cary.

“I am grateful to NCSU, for making innovative new work that is joyful and this is not something that every school understands the importance of,” Bielawa said. 

ICYMI

The last few weeks have been an endless blur of Zoom meetings, and every little bit of effort to make the world a little more colorful & livable really counts. This jazz-adjacent Soundcloud playlist created by jazz musicians in NC State’s department of music is a good pick-me-up for the more unproductive days, and can help you break out of your rut and feel a little classier in sweats.