In an Iowa City home, a trio of musicians prepare to take the stage in their living room.
From the waist up, they put on their finery; below they are wearing pajama bottoms.
They play for their audience: a camera lens.
When they are done, there is no applause. Instead, a video is uploaded to YouTube.
This is Korona Konsort, an ensemble born during the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, their name a nod to the time and an answer to why they got together in the first place.
Oleg Timofeyev, director of the non-profit International Academy of Russian Music Arts and Culture, his son Tobias Timofeyev and his friend Isabela Cruz-Vespa reunited following the blockades that swept the country at the start from 2020.
Oleg Timofeyev and his wife Sabine GÃ¶lz drove across the country, taking their son and Cruz-Vespa – both musicians – who attended Bard College in New York. All four returned to Iowa City to squat.
As the students continued their studies online, they found that the music component was missing.
Oleg Timofeyev, a musicologist who created the Iowa City Russian Guitar Festival, intervened, jokingly offering to hold a baroque performance practice seminar for the younger duo.
They were in it.
“But after a few academic meetings trying to discuss the way music is played, it became clear that people want to play, and that’s what we’re missing right now, playing music, recording it, playing it, playing it. present to the world, âsaid Oleg Timofeyev.
In April, the Timofeyevs and Vespa-Cruz started making music videos of their performances. Cruz-Vespa played the flute, Tobias Timofeyev the cello and Oleg accompanied on the guitar or the lute.
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It was Tobias Timofeyev’s idea for the trio to dress in pajama bottoms, an ode to how Zoom’s learning and work often meant that it was enough to look presentable to leave. size.
Korona Konsort soon began to experiment with the visuals of their performances as well, as they built up an audience of a few hundred followers, most of whom were already familiar with the work of Oleg Timofeyev.
GÃ¶lz, who was handling the camera, explained that they were confined to the house and tried to explore its few different spaces first. This led to performances in their garage, kitchen and living room.
Be creative in producing performance videos
The creativity spread further in the trio’s video for âJohnny Cock Thy Beaver,â a song by an anonymous 17th century composer.
Although it was shot in their home, the video opens with sounds of conversations, making it seem like Korona Konsort is about to perform in a dark, busy tavern. At the end of the song, the camera lingers on a face mask, a reminder of reality.
âMoving around, and really trying to create different spaces visually and fictitiously, was a way to push the boundaries of our confinement by the imagination,â GÃ¶lz said.
Korona Konsort performs baroque music from the 17th and 18th centuries. Oleg Timofeyev said the period is slightly earlier than the most commonly performed music of this era, pointing out that Mozart is also an 18th century composer, but later in the century and certainly more familiar to modern audiences.
Everyone had a role in the productions.
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GÃ¶lz was the cameraman, Oleg Timofeyev recorded and edited the audio, Tobias Timofeyev almost became a cinematographer for their performances, and Vespa-Cruz led with ideas on how to act.
But the selection of music was a democratic process. For example, it was agreed to focus on the music of composers of color and women – which was a challenge, Oleg Timofeyev explained, due to the period in which they were working. But it was possible as the ensemble proved by playing works by Isabella Leonarda, a 17th century Italian composer.
The ensemble rehearsed “quite frequently”, according to Tobias Timofeyev. It took the ensemble about a week or less to film, record and share their clips.
Korona Konsort is producing videos in Germany this summer
When summer 2021 arrived, Korona Konsort continued on, filming a âsecond seasonâ as the set calls it, but in a new location. They had moved to Timofeyev’s second home in RheinmÃ¼nster, Germany for a few months.
âWe always try to incorporate local sounds,â said Oleg Timofeyev. “The bells of the monastery and the birds which apparently sing a little differently in Germany.”
The Korona Konsort still had no live audiences, but they captured the attention of their neighbors, including a bit of a “badass” as Oleg Timofeyev called him, who stepped out onto the balcony and applauded, telling them in German that he liked classical music.
Korona Konsort shot two videos in Germany, both outdoors in green, open fields and indoors in dark rooms.
With their second season over, the musicians hope to continue their pandemic ensemble.
But there are logistical challenges. Oleg Timofeyev and GÃ¶lz are back in Iowa City. Tobias Timofeyev is currently attending the University of Vermont for a PhD in Mathematics, while Cruz-Vespa is continuing his education at Bard College.
Nonetheless, the trio regained consciousness that making music, in all circumstances, was something to be cherished, Oleg Timofeyev said.
GÃ¶lz recalled how jealous of Tobias Timofeyev’s friends, fellow musicians, were he playing live music in an ensemble in the midst of a pandemic.
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“It was a privilege,” said Tobias Timofeyev. âWhen you play in person, that’s one thing. Trying to emulate that with a Zoom gig or something like that is really hard, and it can sometimes lead to you failing in terms of expectations.
“I really liked that we were mostly dealing with a completely different medium, and we really understood that this was a video that we were making and that we could really do whatever we wanted (with it).”
Paris Barraza covers entertainment, lifestyle, and the arts at the Iowa City Press-Citizen. Contact her at PBarraza@press-citizen.com or (319) 519-9731. Follow her on Twitter @ParisBarraza.