The Singing Hoosiers will air their radio show “Hoosiers: Live at Home,” from 6 to 8 p.m. Sunday on WFIU. The show will feature original songs and covers, storytelling and sketch comedy. Listeners can listen on the radio at 103.7 MHz or on the WFIU website.
“Singing Hoosiers radio show encompasses the ensemble's hard work and dedication to music despite being in a pandemic,” sophomore and second-year member of Singing Hoosiers Riley Sample said. “It is going to be super fun with music and skits, and I can't wait to hear it myself.”
Singing Hoosiers is an ensemble for the Jacobs School of Music. Normally, the ensemble would conduct three shows during the school year, but the coronavirus pandemic made that impossible, Chris Albanese, Jacobs School of Music professor and Singing Hoosiers director, said.
Instead of the shows, the Singing Hoosiers put together a radio show while following COVID-19 guidelines.
A majority of the show was recorded last semester. In the fall, the Singing Hoosiers were able to meet in small ensembles, rehearse for three weeks and then record its section of the show, Albanese said.
There are eight small ensembles and two solos, and three large ensemble numbers were recorded asynchronously. The Singing Hoosiers worked with the band to record a rhythm section and students from the audio engineering department at the Jacobs School of Music to fit all the music together.
The sketch portion of the show is a collaboration between Albanese and the skit writers from the ensemble. The skit writers wrote and gave material to Albanese, who edited and completed the script by December 2020, he said.
Rehearsals began before winter break, but once school resumed this semester, the students rehearsed on Zoom every day. The final recordings for the skits were completed Feb. 12.
The sketch recordings will be sent to IU alum Alex Berko, who will record underscoring music and send it back to the ensemble. The audio engineers will do the final mixing and then the show will be ready to send to WFIU.
“We managed to put this whole show together, and to get students on board writing the skits and collaborating with our audio department,” Alabanese said. “These are people we wouldn't have worked with this closely if it weren't for this circumstance. It's been tremendously beneficial, and I hope that it's provided something meaningful for the audience too.”
Senior and Singing Hoosiers student manager Carly Bias is one of the members that did sketches for the radio show. Bias said the transition from singing to skits was challenging at first and took her out of her comfort zone.
“Singing Hoosiers is a place that's very comfortable and everyone is very encouraging,” Bias said. “A lot of people do like acting because it's almost in the same realm of music, singing and performing. So the people that were more comfortable with that really stepped up and encouraged other people that maybe weren't so comfortable with it.”
As director, Albanese’s role involves preparing the ensemble for performances and conducting the ensemble. With COVID-19, Albanese took on new roles, coming up with the idea of the radio show, writing the majority of the script, helping actors rehearse and managing narration directions.
Albanese said he was inspired by shows like “A Prairie Home Companion,” “The Alan Young Show” and “The Abbott and Costello Show.” He said he loved the idea of a performance narration woven into a concert.
“We spend all of our days just looking at screens, and now with COVID and virtual learning, we're spending even more time looking at screens,” Albanese said. “So I thought what can we do that will get people off the screen and just listen.”
Bias did not get a normal senior year of Singing Hoosiers, but she is grateful for the year of new opportunities, she said.
“That's one of the advantages of this project and this semester,” Bias said. “Even though I was disappointed that I couldn't do the same things as years before, I am even trying new things and still getting to challenge myself and explore new things.”