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Concert    Seventeen long months.
    It's been that length of time since Kaskaskia College's music department presented a live concert. 
    So with COVID precautions in place, musicians in the community college's vocal music program took to the Jane Knight Auditorium stage Oct. 14 for their fall concert.
    The concert was performed by members of the Kaskaskia College Concert Choir, KC Blues, and Community Chorale under the direction Lynda Marshall, assistant professor of music. 
    Kellie Henegar, dean of Arts and Sciences, welcomed patrons back to campus for the event.
    "Now, let's turn our attention to why we're here. It's taken us too long to get there," Henegar said.

    The absence of live musical programming at the school has been due to health concerns surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic.
    Concert attendance guidelines — health pre-screenings, the wearing of masks and social distancing — were in effect.
    Patrons have to pre-screen through a form on the Kaskaskia College website, when events warrant it.
    Marshall said, "It dawned on me that the last time we were on this stage was December of 2019."
    She said many of the students on the stage that night — fast forward your life two years — for some of them, it was the last choral concert they were part of, because it was part of the High School Honor Choir.
    Talking to the audience, Marshall said many of them were in the audience that night as well, and "it may have been the last live choral concert you got to hear, in a setting like this."
    She said that hit her, and she said to herself, "This is so cool, that we get to be back here, because I never thought that we'd get to be" back in such a setting.
    Sing us some songs
    The event opened with the Concert Choir performing Michael Engelhardt's "I Will Sing." 
    Guest violinist Maggie Watts joined the choir to perform on Eric Whitacre's gorgeous setting of "Five Hebrew Love Songs." 
    Whitacre was asked by a friend to write a set of troubador songs for piano, violin and soprano, Marshall said of the piece.
    Whitacre asked his then-girlfriend Hila Plitmann — she was born and raised in Jerusalem — to write the "postcards" in her native tongue.
    The movements were written to capture a moment that Whitacre and Plitmann had together, Marshall said. 
    The KC Blues followed the Concert Choir with their a cappella setting of "When I Fall in Love," followed by an eclectic contemporary song, "Water Fountain," originally recorded by the Tune-Yards. 
    Next on, the Community Chorale performed two familiar tunes. The first was a contemporary setting of the traditional Appalachian song "Will the Circle Be Unbroken," followed by a new "Red River Valley" setting.
    The concert finished with an exuberant setting of "Let the River Run," written by Carly Simon and arranged by Craig Hella Johnson. 
    The song is featured on the soundtrack of Mike Nichols' 1988 hit "Working Girl."
    Simon was the first artist in history to win a Grammy Award, a Golden Globe Award, and an Academy Award "for a song composed, written and performed entirely by a single artist," Marshall said.
    Musically, Simon has described the song "as a hint of New York, and an anthem with a jungle beat, contrasting those opposites in a compelling way," Marshall said.
    Barb Roberts collaborated with the choirs on piano, and guest percussionists were Cliff Jourdan, professor of music, and KC student Jake Nollman.
    The Kaskaskia College choirs are composed of these musicians:
    •Altamont - Mason Kurtz
    •Aviston - Harrison Mondt
    •Breese - Mackenzie Duncan and Alayna Lepore
    •Carlyle - Mason Brandt and Amber Meyer
    •Centralia - Jim Bahr, Zack Dagley, Morgan Isaiah, Alyssa Lurkins, Sam Muhammad, Jake Nollman, Emma Peper
    •Columbia - Kara Grafton
    •Greenville - Joshua Doty
    •Highland - Madelyn Owens and Tom Fulton
    •Pinckneyville - Amos Pulke
    •Nashville - Madison Mills and Elley Szopinski
    •Ramsey - Amber Pease
    • Salem - Chloe Beal, Karma Dunham, Shirley Kern, Sharon Sullens, Eric Wescher and Kate Young
    Upcoming concerts include:
    •Fall instrumental concert, Tuesday, Oct. 26 at 7:30 p.m., featuring the college's concert and jazz bands, with Jourdan conducting
    •"Christmas at KC," Friday, Dec. 3 at 7:30 p.m., featuring the Concert Choir, KC Blues and Community Chorale, with Marshall conducting
    •Holiday instrumental concert, Tuesday, Dec. 7 at 7:30 p.m., featuring the concert and jazz bands, with Jourdan conducting
    All events are in the Jane Knight Auditorium.