After a year of feeling disconnected from the Boston College campus, BC graduate students will come together for a three-part virtual concert series set to take place on April 16, 23, and 30. Each night, between 6 and 7 p.m., a local Boston-area musician will perform over Zoom, followed by a question and answer session. The musical guests include Jazzmyn RED, Cliff Notez, and Danny Rivera.
The event will be hosted by the Graduate Student Association (GSA), which is composed of representatives from the graduate colleges of BC, as a celebration of Graduate Student Appreciation Month. The organization has planned programming in the past to support the graduate student community—including fireside chats with industry professionals and a walk for racial justice.
For the music event, GSA has collaborated with Boston Art & Music Soul (BAMS) Fest to organize the concert series. BAMS Fest is a non-profit based in Dorchester, Mass. that, according to its mission statement, works to break down racial and social barriers in the arts and music communities, cultivating a diverse and inclusive community in the Greater Boston area.
BAMS Fest held its debut festival in June 2018 and since then has continued to grow. In past years, the annual summer event brought upwards of 8,500 attendees to its multiple stages spread throughout Franklin Park, which is in the Jamaica Plain, Roxbury, and Dorchester neighborhoods of Boston.
But the 2021 outdoor festival has been postponed until the summer of 2022. Instead, the non-profit started a virtual speaker series called ARTDACITY in addition to creating the small-scale virtual concert series with GSA.
The virtual format not only offers a safe way for graduate students to interact during the pandemic, but it also gives the audience a peek into each artist’s world. The musicians will be streaming from their homes or any location of their choosing—reminiscent of NPR’s Tiny Desk (Home) Concert series.
Dewin Hernandez, director of GSA and a dual degree student in CGSOM and MSW ’21, had the idea for the event and contacted Catherine Morris, founder and executive director of BAMS Fest. Hernandez said the non-profit’s mission resonates with GSA’s mission to encourage diversity and address racism at BC. Morris selected the musicians that will be performing, and Hernandez said GSA is excited that the event will help elevate local BIPOC artists.
“I think it is really important [to highlight] … those who are speaking to the issues that are most pressing today and are using their music and their art as a means to start the conversation,” Hernandez said.
Graduate students have faced a plethora of challenges as a result of the pandemic. Without the dorm-living environment or shared dining spaces available to undergraduate students, graduate students have felt detached from the campus community, Hernandez said. Although the new class of graduate students had a virtual orientation, since many work remotely, it is difficult to connect with BC graduate peers.
But GSA is hoping the concert series, which can be accessed through MyBC on the Agora Portal, will give students an opportunity to relax and interact with each other over Zoom. During the open discussions following the performances attendees can chat while also engaging with artists from the Greater Boston community who incorporate messages of racial and social justice into their creative work.
“It’s so hard over your computer to feel part of Boston College, so I think it’s really exciting that you can tune in, chat with your peers, connect with Boston artists, [and] get a sense of where you are,” Marina Rakhilin, intern of communications and graduate assistant at the Office of Graduate Student Life and MSW ’23, said. “It’s so grounding and it’s so exciting, and these are people talking to issues of racism and isolation—everything that everyone is going through. And I think that art is the best way to do that.”
Graphic Courtesy of Meegan Minahan / Heights Editor