At Minnesota State University, Mankato, the Serendipity Series has been a great way to interact students with local Minnesota musicians. This tradition has been ongoing for years, and while COVID-19 has definitely slowed it down, it hasn’t stopped to bring live music for the campus community to enjoy.
“We slowly started our series early in the school year, and because of COVID-19 we decided to hold off to know more of what our protocol was going to be and how we could approach things safely,” stated Lenny Koupal, Communications Coordinator of the Centennial Student Union.
There have been performances earlier this school year to help students feel a connection on campus, with some being held outside because of the warmer weather. This also allows everyone to be safer with COVID-19 precautions.
Many precautions the program is taking are ones already expected of students. Face masks are required, especially inside, to keep everyone safe. When there are performances in the Hearth Lounge in the CSU, the seating is spread out to ensure social distancing.
Koupal continued with more precautions in regard to the performers.
“We have the stage set up so that it gives more than ample amount of distance between the performers and the audience. This setup also allows the performers to choose whether or not they want to wear a mask, since there is so much distance between everyone.”
One event Koupal was excited to announce was the Hip-Hop showcase Nov. 5, which will feature three hip-hop artists from the Twin Cities. The performance is scheduled to take place in the Hearth Lounge, but because of the recently warm weather, it could be moved outside to the campus mall.
To wrap up the Fall 2020 season, Mae Simpson will perform Nov. 19.
“We’ve been trying to get Mae and her band to come for a long time. She was actually scheduled to perform right before COVID came, and we’re happy to finally have her,” stated Koupal.
This event will be livestreamed on the CSU’s Facebook page, and will be held in the Ostrander Auditorium with a limited audience.
Koupal also talked about the purpose of the series and why it’s important to the campus.
“The whole idea behind the Serendipity Music Series is the idea of a ‘street-corner serenade.’ It’s not meant for people to sit down and listen, although we do have that option available. It’s all about the passer-bys, who are waiting for the bus or grabbing lunch and hear the music as they walk around,” he said.
Koupal said surveys show students love the music series. Because of this, he said, they’re finding new ways to advertise these events and let students know when they’re taking place.
“With COVID, it’s almost non-existent to have live music anymore,” he said. “We’ve really made an effort to try to have these performances offered to the students.”
Koupal said they’re looking forward to setting the series up for the spring semester, and that they’re always looking for new acts and feedback from students.
“This program is close to my heart,” he said. “I love music and I love to be able to spotlight music, especially upcoming musicians. … Almost all of these performers are Minnesota based, and that’s one of our missions here in the program. We want to spotlight Minnesota musicians and give students an opportunity to see different genres of music.”