Today, Saturday, November 22nd 2008 at 8 pm, Central Time, will mark our first official webcast from the Lawrence Memorial Chapel, and I couldn’t be more excited about this momentous occasion. Before starting my job as the Dean of the Conservatory this July, I was an alumnus living in Seattle. Periodically I would hear of amazing concerts that took place at Lawrence. Word of this incredible performance or that, would eventually trickle out to the coasts. I would be left shaking my head and thinking, “I sure wish I could have actually heard the concert rather than just hearing about it.” This was frustrating. When I started to think about all of the parents, friends, and relatives of students who were experiencing the same situation, my frustration grew.

The only way to really hear the quality of music being created at Lawrence was to get to Appleton and experience it first hand. When I had a chance to chat with people who had visited Lawrence for the first time and had actually heard what was happening at the Conservatory, I would often hear variations on one common theme: “Wow, I couldn’t believe the quality of musicianship at Lawrence. It must be one of America’s best kept secrets!” Although it was gratifying to hear the glowing praise for my Alma Mater, the last thing I wanted Lawrence to be was a best kept secret! I knew that live webcasting could go a long way to solve this problem. So when I began my tenure as dean, it was right at the top of my list of things to do.

Through the concerted efforts of our Conservatory Recording Studio, our Technology Department, and WLFM, our campus internet radio station, we figured out a way to make this dream a reality. Last week, we ran our beta-test of the system by broadcasting the Lawrence Chamber Orchestra’s concert. Even one day before the event, it didn’t look like it was going to happen, but we got the green light early that morning. At the dress rehearsal I told the orchestra members what we planned to do and they were very excited. I asked them to tell their family and friends to help us out with the test by tuning in to WLFM and then giving us feedback on their experience.

As the last note faded away and applause filled the Chapel, the email responses came pouring in. One look at those emails and we knew all of the hard work was well worth it.

We had fifty homes tuned in from across America. The response was even better than we had hoped. Check out just a few of the raves from our listeners:

-This broadcast was INCREDIBLE, STUPENDOUS, EXHILARATING!!!!

-Oh, wow, what a wonderful orchestra!

-Thank you so much for broadcasting tonight’s performance!

-What a wonderful gift! We all listened, and were thrilled at feeling ourselves right there in the audience.

-The sound quality was EXCELLENT! We could hear people turning pages–we could hear every nuance down to the most pppppp dynamic.

-The orchestra sounded just as professional as the ‘big guys’ in other larger metropolitan cities….

-KUDOS to Lawrence once again!

-Totally AWESOME !!!!!!!!

-The sound was excellent, it was like we were in the same hall as the group playing.

-Wow, that was WONDERFUL to get to hear a concert that we had to miss in person.

Thanks for bringing that about.

-I’m a conservatory and LSO alumna, and I wanted to let you know how

EXCITING it was for me to hear the LSO on WLFM this evening!

-I was pleased to hear your first live performance via the internet! I was so impressed with the sound and musicality exhibited by this collegiate group.

-Once again, as Lawrence parents, I can’t tell you how much we appreciate you making this happen

Is there any doubt why we are so excited to kick off this new era? The web has just made the Chapel a whole lot bigger, and the whole world is invited! To make the experience even better, we have included the complete concert programs on our Conservatory Webcast page, and each intermission will feature interviews with performers, conductors, or visiting artists.

Ironically, I will be in Seattle attending a conference for the first official webcast, so I will be tuning in right along with all the parents, friends, alumni, prospective students, and music lovers from around the country and around the world!

Webcasts will never replace the thrill of a live performance, but if you can’t make it to the Chapel, it really is the next best thing. So tune in, sit back, and enjoy the beautiful music!

UPDATE: We had 91 households tuned in for the broadcast! If there were an average of two listeners per household that would mean another 182 people were able to hear the concert. For me, this is fantastic news! Thanks to everyone who tuned in!

Posted on 11-22-2008 by Brian Pertl

Dean of the Lawrence Conservatory of Music

Published by

Brian Pertl

Brian Pertl, Dean of the Coservatory of Music at Lawrence University, has degrees from Lawrence University in Trombone Performance and English, as well as a graduate degree in Ethnomusicology. He is a passionate advocate of music and music education. He is thrilled to be back at Lawrence working with an exceptional faculty, and an exceptional student body.

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