Innovative Faculty Engage Thousands of Viewers — On the Internet

One of the most rewarding aspects of being a musician is the way that it brings people together. In these difficult times, social distancing guidelines mandate that we physically separate ourselves. Fortunately, technology has enabled musicians to collaborate in new and unusual ways. As usual, Duquesne's faculty have taken up these challenges and produced some inspiring work while we wait for the pandemic to ease.

Jim Nova, surrounded by his trombones.James Nova's countless performances on stage with the Pittsburgh Symphony and his exemplary work in the classroom as Brass Area Coordinator and trombone faculty have garnered accolades across the nation and world. For the past eight years, Nova has produced elaborate multitrack recordings of himself and others performing virtuosic brass music. His videos on YouTube have been viewed over 75,000 times, and his SoundCloud site has passed 1 million listeners as of this month. Nova has enlisted the help of fellow top PSO brass players and community musicians to perform everything from the well-known March from the film Superman (over 38,000 views) to Michael Dease's arrangement of "Lift Every Voice", (6,000 views) for the occasion of Juneteenth. This impressive video features 35 trombonists performing "in honor of those who have lost their lives in the struggle to end racial injustice."

Not content simply to bask in the limelight of a dazzling performer and producer, Nova's YouTube presence also includes pedagogical videos. These range from trombone-specific techniques (such as how to play with drones) to helpful advice on how to create the same kinds of overdubbing tracks that he himself produces.

Paul Miller working on a recording on his laptop.Assistant Professor of Musicianship Paul Miller plunged into the realm of multitracking as the pandemic hit. A specialist in historical instruments as well as electronic music, Miller created a video of himself playing all the parts in one of Telemann's fugues for four violins. The video was picked up by promoters on Facebook and was watched over 100,000 times. Over the summer, Miller (who also directs Duquesne's early music performing group "The Duke's Music") undertook an ambitious benefit project to record all six Bach Suites for Solo Violoncello on his electric violin - in his basement. Each Suite exists in a virtual acoustic, ranging from St. Alban's Cathedral in England to the Tanglewood music shed in the Berkshires. Miller's recordings have already earned the praise of several notable leaders in the Early Music community, from all over the United States and Canada.

Even when deployed creatively, digital technologies can only bring us together so much. Yet, they are helping many to stay connected during these difficult times. Indeed, the videos Nova and Miller have unleashed on the internet will still be relevant even after the pandemic passes. By bringing people together virtually, these technologies can be used to unite people from across the globe, fulfilling Duquesne's mission to serve the Church, the community, the nation, and the world, both in music and in spirit.

Duquesne University

Founded in 1878, Duquesne is consistently ranked among the nation's top Catholic universities for its award-winning faculty and horizon-expanding education. A campus of nearly 9,500 graduate and undergraduate students, Duquesne prepares students by having them work alongside faculty to discover and reach their goals. The University's academic programs, community service, and commitment to equity and opportunity in the Pittsburgh region have earned national acclaim. 

It's time for bigger goals
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