Since 2001, the Eastman School of Music has held over 50 virtual master classes with faculty and students from universities across the country and overseas. For the first time in the school’s history however, using the Internet2 capabilities of the new Hatch Recital Hall, an Eastman master class will be held in front of a live audience, which will be integrated into the event.
The class, which will be held on Tuesday, Dec. 7, is between faculty and students at ESM and at the Norwegian Academy of Music at Oslo. One ESM student will receive a horn lesson and another a voice lesson from experts at the Norwegian Academy of Music, while two students of the same disciplines in Norway will receive lessons from Eastman professors. Because Hatch Recital Hall is outfitted with Internet2, the event will be streamed in real-time at extremely high quality — free of blips, freezes or pixelation.
ESM Professor of Horn Peter Kurau will be giving one of the classes during the 90-minute event, which from his perspective is purely educational.
“I will hear one of the students from the Norwegian [Academy of Music] play, and I will, in essence, give him or her a public lesson,” he said. “This could be related to technical matters, or musical and artistic ones, or both.”
According to Director of Technology and Media Production at ESM Helen Smith, much of the quality of the connection between the universities is due to the advanced DVTS codec that the class will be run over. This allows for uncompressed audio and video to be sent at rates around 30 megabits per second both ways. For the less tech savvy, this means CD-quality audio and DVD-quality video streaming live across a distance over 3,500 miles.
“We basically turn the hall into a small TV studio, with a live audience who can also participate and connect with another studio abroad,” Smith said.
In addition, because UR is already a member of the Internet2 Consortium, there are no additional costs to the University to hold classes in this larger public format.
Tuesday’s event will start with a brief introduction to the partnership between ESM and the Norwegian Academy of Music and an overview of the Internet2 capabilities of the recital hall. After each class, the audience will get a chance to participate, setting this event apart from other master classes held at Eastman. The audience at Eastman will have the opportunity not only to ask the performers on the stage in front of them questions, but also the faculty, students and audience in Norway.
According to Smith, although the main purpose of the hall will remain the holding of recitals by students, faculty and guest artists, the technological capabilities of Hatch Recital Hall will almost certainly cause its functionality to extend beyond that. In fact, talks are already beginning to hold future master classes not only with the Norwegian Academy of Music, but also with institutions in other parts of the U.S., Canada, Denmark, London, France, Japan and Australia.
Additionally, Smith mentioned the possibility of using the hall to stream live performance to the online community in general.
“[The local music community] will be able to collaborate on joint projects, share their music making and engage in conversation with similar communities across every continent via their Internet2 connected networks,” she said.
Kurau echoed the sentiment.
“Given the cost of travel, this technology will become more prevalent in the future,” he said. “I would imagine that other institutions and organizations in the region may wish to access this opportunity and technology that Hatch Hall can now provide.”
The master class, which is part of the Festival Week celebrating the opening of the Eastman East Wing, will be free and open to the public.
Fleming is a member of the class of 2013.