Kat Rubush spent six months practicing for her senior recital. As COVID-19 spread, she was forced to change her plans.

By: Cas Waigand

Vocal Performance major Kat Rubush began practicing for her senior recital in September. Her junior recital had been postponed last year due to a snow day. This year, nearly 20 friends and family planned to attend her last solo performance at Webster University. But in the span of one week, her six months of practice ended unexpectedly. 

“I was on spring break on the beach when I found out that my recital was moved online, and I literally got up, put my phone down, ran into the ocean and started screaming and punching waves,” Rubush said, “I was devastated and frustrated at the same time.”

For Rubush, adapting to the changes caused by COVID-19 has been stressful and at times a disheartening process. However, her family and instructors are working to ensure she gets her final recital.

Rubush’s recital was supposed to be on March 20. On March 12, the Webster University School of Music notified Rubush she would not be able to perform on her scheduled day. All recitalists scheduled before April 3 had two options: they could either postpone the performance or attempt to livestream it. Rubush chose the latter.

Kat Rubush’s junior recital was postponed due to a snow day. This year, the COVID-19 pandemic altered her senior recital plans. Photo by Kristin Butcher.

The decision would come with drawbacks, even though Rubush felt it was the best option for her. She would have to cut a planned ensemble to ensure everyone in the room stayed 6 feet apart. Rubush was also not allowed to have an audience to cheer her on, and she worried an empty room would impact her performance. 

“I am a little concerned about my energy in my performance because I feed off an audience,” Rubush said. “What do I do for bowing like, if nobody claps? Am I even supposed to bow?” 

Charlotte Rubush, Kat’s mother, explained that friends and relatives looked forward to attending the in-person performance. She said family members had booked hotel rooms in the area and planned to visit for a couple of days. Charlotte Rubush even booked a room for the family to gather. In the end, she had to cancel the in-person plans.

Despite this last-minute change, many of Kat Rubush’s friends and relatives embraced the idea of a livestream. But as the recital drew closer, Kat Rubush said the online excitement became an added stressor.

“I felt like I needed to do it to make people feel happy, and that was just more increased stress,” Kat Rubush said. “I had a lot of well-meaning family members share it and be like, ‘Hey guys, you know, watch this.’”

On March 17, Kat Rubush sang through roughly 10 songs during her final dress rehearsal. Then, she began to cry. Kat Rubush ultimately decided to cancel the online recital, as she felt she was not in the right headspace to perform. Charlotte Rubush explained moving to online classes also contributed to her daughter’s stress.

Jacob Lassetter, Kat Rubush’s voice instructor, explained Kat Rubush probably would not have been allowed to perform anyway. The day after she canceled her livestream, the university officially canceled recitals for the rest of the semester. According to Lassetter, the school of music has replaced the recital requirements to make sure students will be able to graduate. 

“We’re hoping to offer the option of a live performance that’s not required because we don’t want to hold that over graduating people’s heads,” Lassetter said.

Kat Rubush planned to livestream her senior recital on March 20. She decided to cancel the livestream on March 17 during her dress rehearsal. Video by Kat Rubush.

In Kat Rubush’s case, Lassetter explained Webster will be able to count the work Kat Rubush has completed thus far in place of her recital.  He is also optimistic she will be able to reschedule. 

“There’s even a chance of maybe an early fall recital if they have to wait that long,” Lassetter said. “Just because it’s the right thing to do, not because it’s a requirement at this point. Our majors want to do these things. They sing because they want to.”

Charlotte Rubush is also committed to ensuring her daughter gets a senior recital. She explained she could even host it at her church and pay for accompanists if Kat Rubush is unable to schedule a performance at Webster. She added she already plans to host around 30 people.

For Kat Rubush, this kind of support from her family and friends is not new. When Webster postponed her junior recital last year due to a snow day, many people still came. 

“There is no better feeling than performing for my friends and family and like the people that care about me the most, and that have been with me through this journey,” Kat Rubush said. “That’s the best part… Just knowing that everybody still came and they still cheered me on.”