Experience the Mainly Mozart Festival at home

By Amanda M. Perez

Experience the Mainly Mozart Festival at home

By Amanda M. Perez
A rapid response grant aims to provide the community with a virtual arts and culture experience.

Although live events and large gatherings are still on hold because of the pandemic, the University of Miami is working to keep the spirit of arts and culture alive. In an effort to continue providing cultural engagement, the University has partnered with the Mainly Mozart Festival to bring their annual concert series straight into the homes of community members.

“The primary role is to implement a rapid response and socially engaging online experience that will help mitigate the stress and help the well-being of the vulnerable populations during the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Professor Joy Doan, head of Marta and Austin Weeks Music Library at the Frost School of Music.

Doan is also the principal investigator for a UM rapid response grant funded by the Office of the Vice Provost for Research that helped make this possible. The grant has helped develop an online prototype that will transition future university live cultural offerings into a secondary virtual platform. These recently awarded grants provide funding for University faculty members and students to develop and execute research that broadens our understanding of COVID-19 and begins to mitigate its impacts.

“I believe the impact of live social media-based performances of art and music will have long-term research implications for the fields of musicology, performance practices, music therapy, and arts administration,” said Doan. “It has taken a lot of collaboration and people power to transition the Mainly Mozart Festival online. University of Miami Libraries Technologies, led by Professor Dhanushka Samarakoon, and the Libraries Digital Scholarship department, headed by Dr. Cameron Riopelle—who are co-PIs on the grant—have been instrumental to implementing this vision.”

The now completely online, innovative, and socially engaging experience titled “LIVE with Mainly Mozart,” includes performances and conversations by world-class musicians which are streamed live. The high-profile artists include winners of Emmy and Grammy awards, many top international competitions and honors. The series also incorporates interactive elements that are specifically designed to foster socialization, such as a Q&A section, and curated exhibits by the faculty from the Weeks Music Library—where the featured artists, lecturer, curator and University of Miami Libraries administration are engaging the online audience by popping into the smaller breakout groups, recreating the “meet and greet” experience of live events in a virtual environment.

“As we collectively navigate through the uncharted waters of dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic, there is a need for unorthodox thinking,” said Marina Radiushina, the artistic director of Miami Chamber Music Society and Mainly Mozart Festival and a Frost School of Music alumna. “Our audience deserves to experience the feeling of being received and have the opportunity to share views and socialize. This requires technological innovation and a deep understanding of the parameters that can have a meaningful impact on our community.”

Produced by the Miami Chamber Music Society, the Mainly Mozart Festival is an iconic, nationally recognized concert series and is one of the most respected chamber music series in Miami, consistently presenting exceptional classical artists to the South Florida community for the past 27 years.

According to Charles Eckman, dean of the University of Miami Libraries, the partnership builds upon and furthers the libraries’ strategic plan of community engagement as expressed by its successful four-year partnership with the Mainly Mozart Festival.

“The project also aligns with the libraries’ active exploration of the potential of various technologies to enhance our connection to community constituents,” he said. “This project will inform our understanding of requirements for successful virtual community engagement tactics, and project findings will be shared with other UM community outreach programs at the Frost School of Music and the Lowe Art Museum and the College of Arts and Sciences, among others.”

Visit the Mainly Mozart website to register for the series.