Ensemble declares ‘a time for hope’

The song was a collaboration from the Frost School of Music faculty, students, and staff—an ambitious project produced with love during COVID-19.
By Amanda M. Perez

The song was a collaboration from the Frost School of Music faculty, students, and staff—an ambitious project produced with love during COVID-19.

Ensemble declares ‘a time for hope’

By Amanda M. Perez
Frost School of Music’s faculty and staff members and students utilize their talents to help unify the community during this difficult time.

What started at the beginning of the pandemic as a means to uplift and unite the student body during a time of unprecedented transition, grew into a crowd sharing an emotionally driven video performance that represents the spirit of the Frost School of Music.

“A Time for Hope,” is an original composition written by Dean Shelly Berg and his wife, Julia Berg. It features 66 members of the Frost School of Music student body, alumni, Grammy-winning faculty and staff and consists of remotely recorded, largely improvised performances of the song from their homes all over the world. 

“We invited everyone to participate,” said Berg. “What we received back in the form of mostly iPhone videos and home-studio recordings was astounding. It took over a month to complete and turned out to be so moving, healing, and truly special, that we unanimously decided to make it a part of our end of the school year virtual celebration.”

Berg believes that every person who contributed a piece of themselves helped bring the song to life. 

“What I love best about Frost is that we have a very caring and unifying culture. Every kind of musician in our programs like and respect each other and collaborate together, so this was not something that we were trying to do for the first time,” he explained.

He said what makes the video so unique is that aside from the choral arrangement, the rest of the musicians improvised their own interpretation of the song, which is at the heart of the Frost School of Music curriculum.

“Just being able to do this production that dealt with a great amount of improvisation reflects the way we teach our students. They really had to think outside of their box, so I think it was a great learning experience,” said Berg.

Rey Sanchez, associate dean for strategic initiatives and innovation, and professor of music business and entertainment industries, was instrumental in arranging the music and producing the recording. His job was to take all the diverse performances represented in the videos and create one cohesive work. Gonzalo Mejia, Frost’s director of production services, then produced the video based on Sanchez’s musical production.

“It’s the ultimate in collage art. Imagine taking 10 different puzzles, throwing them into a bucket, shaking them up, then pouring it out and recreating something altogether new. That’s basically what we did,” Sanchez explained.

Berg believes that music is a unifying force the world needs right now.

“In times when people need healing, it seems like music is what can draw people together,” he said.

Molly Blumenfeld, a senior majoring in vocal performance, said she was happy to see her Frost family together again in a different space.

“I have desperately missed making music with my friends. It feels amazing to sing alongside talented, creative artists,” she said. “When I first saw ‘A Time for Hope,’ I was shocked. All of my best friends and professors were on my laptop screen collaborating to make a beautiful piece of music. Right now, we are all yearning for a sense of closeness and intimacy with others and the Frost community showed up to give that love to students, professors, parents, and just everyone.”

Her participation in the video has inspired her to continue to make music during this uncertain time.

“I have hope that people will continue to sing, write, create, and perform amid these challenging times. It may take a while, but one day we will be back in Broadway theaters, concert halls, and arenas celebrating the power of togetherness through music.”