Sounds@Brown held its first live event since the start of the pandemic Sept. 30 in the Brown University Maddock Alumni Center. In compliance with University COVID-19 guidelines, the evening event took place outdoors in the Alumni Garden, an intimate setting that lent the perfect atmosphere to the acoustic performances.
Sounds@Brown, a student organization that helps student artists showcase and promote their work, hosts monthly shows featuring three artists from the Brown community, creating space for live music performances on campus.
September’s show opened with a duet performance by Ellie Tapping ’24 and Tara Mandal ’24, followed by Herald Senior Staff Writer Laura David ’24 and Gus Benson ’23, all of whom had collaborated with Sounds@Brown in the past. The artists played a combination of personal favorites, crowd-pleasers — including classics by Taylor Swift and ABBA — and original compositions.
As a club centered around the live music experience, Sounds@Brown had to significantly alter its operations to adapt to the COVID-19 pandemic, with lockdown being enforced shortly after the club held its very first live event. “We did artist spotlights and some virtual concerts, we partnered with CCB and ‘Engines for Change’ as well and it was super fun but it was not the same,” said club founder and board member Zachary Federman ’23.5.
But planning the first live event since the onset of the pandemic was not without its own challenges. “It was remarkably tough; I’m actually shocked that we managed to pull this off,” Federman said, alluding to date-changes, technical errors in the process of setting up, and changing University guidelines. “It was really hard to work things out logistically to make it happen, but we worked really hard,” he said.
The efforts of the team were apparent at the “Welcome Back to Live Music Show,” and its success was evident in the huge turnout and audience reactions. “I had been waiting so long to hear live music again and it was just incredible,” said audience member Naia Wolfenzon ’24. The audience’s enthusiasm for having live music back on campus was palpable through listeners’ engaged smiles and warm applause.
It was precisely these intimate connections between the artist and the audience that Sounds@Brown has sought to foster since its conception. “A lot of what we wanted to do when we started Sounds@Brown was to use music as a way to build community and center love, and I feel really good about it,” said Federman.
Davis Jackson ’24, an audience member, agreed. “Having all of us be in the same space reacting to the same sounds … it’s nice to hear,” he said.
The performers also expressed their enthusiasm at the return of live music. “I really missed being able to collaborate with other musicians,” Tapping said. “For me, music is so much about harmony and emotional connection that it is so difficult to only make music in solitude.”
Sounds@Brown is planning to host more live music events over the course of the semester in various locations around campus.