FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
BLOOMINGTON, Ind. – Four alumni from the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music recently won regional Emmy Awards for an edited version of their streamed variety show, “Virtual Holiday Spectacular.”
Brennan Johns, Andy Lott, Charlotte O’Connor and Kenji Ulmer won the awards in the categories of Audio–Live and Post-Production, Original Composition/Arrangement and Technical Achievement during the virtual 52nd Annual Emmy Awards presented by the Lower Great Lakes Chapter of the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences.
O’Connor and Ulmer were students of horn professor Jeff Nelsen, while Lott studied trumpet with John Rommel and Joey Tartell. Multi-instrumentalist Johns studied with Carl Lenthe, M. Dee Stewart, Wayne Wallace and Brent Wallarab.
Members of the Emmy-winning group also include IU alumna Emily Arata Grillo and associate Lukas Untersteiner.
In August 2020, Grillo, Lott and O’Connor decided to create a multigenre Christmas show featuring their colleagues and a network of artists that had lost their jobs and the majority of their livelihoods due to the pandemic. They produced “Virtual Holiday Spectacular” in just 11 weeks, airing in mid-December.
More than 200 musicians, singers, dancers, film crew members and sound engineers across 14 organizations united to create the show while following strict COVID-19 protocols. Among the performers were the Fort Wayne Children’s Choir, Indianapolis Ballet and musicians from the Fort Wayne Philharmonic and the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra.
Over 150,000 people around the world viewed the hour-long program via Facebook, YouTube and public-access television.
The non-profit started by O’Connor and her cohorts, Artist Unleashed (formerly Artists Untied), raised more than $13,000 from viewers’ donations and provided support to struggling northeast Indiana artists and Fort Wayne’s Community Harvest Food Bank.
“We are so honored, and very proud of ‘Virtual Holiday Spectacular,’ and are looking forward to doing more projects in the near future,” said O’Connor. “The pandemic gave us a different perspective on what it means to be working artists, and we are grateful to all the musicians, dancers, singers and film crew members who trusted a bunch of brass players to pull off this project!”
Watch the award-winning “Virtual Holiday Spectacular: Producer’s Cut.”