Music Students Provide Original Music, Voice Over Remotely for New Duquesne University Commercial

When Duquesne University's Division of Marketing and Communications started planning to launch a new image campaign for the fall, the marketing and advertising teams wanted to bring in some new talent. Thankfully, new talent was found just across campus-students in the Mary Pappert School of Music.

Duquesne's marketing and advertising teams took their idea to Thomas Kikta, chair of the Commercial Music, Media and Jazz Department, who was tasked earlier this year with finding a creative solution for conducting remote lessons, classes and auditions due to COVID-19. His solution? The Digigram/IQOYA *SERV/LINK.  

The Digigram/IQOYA *SERV/LINK is a multi-channel system using audio codecs that provides pristine audio quality in tandem with video conferencing platforms like Zoom. While Zoom audio quality is functional for most classes across the University, music classes require reliable, high-quality audio so instructors can hear things like vibrato and tonal quality. The Mary Pappert School of Music is the first school in the world to use this system for distance learning.  

This technology could also lend itself to help produce Duquesne's new image commercial virtually.  

The collaboration was a perfect fit for the Institute of Entertainment, Music and Media Arts (IEMMA), which Kikta and the School of Music launched in 2019. IEMMA aims to help each music student develop an entrepreneurial mindset to help them generate multiple revenue streams through their creative abilities.  

"I saw this as a great opportunity for IEMMA to bring together parties that normally wouldn't interact in this way professionally," said Kikta. "This is the IEMMA vision in practice where students can benefit and learn from real world experience."  

Through an audition process, two students were chosen to provide an original music track and voice over for the new campaign. 

It took just five hours for sophomore media composition student Colby Hill to compose and record original music for the commercial spot. Hill, who is from New Castle, Pa., recorded his piece in his home studio.  

"I've been composing for many years and have attempted multiple times to get my music out to a greater audience, and when this opportunity came along, I was excited to get started," said Hill. "Although my music has been performed for many people, getting out to an audience this size is super exciting. It feels like my music is finally being 'heard'. I'm excited to take on more projects like this throughout my career."  

Joshua Bryan-Branker, a sophomore music education major, provided the voice over from his home in Baltimore, Md. Kikta, while in Pittsburgh, was able to record Bryan-Branker in real time doing his voice over while members of Duquesne's marketing and advertising teams tuned in and gave direction.  

"It was like having everyone in the recording studio together, but instead, we were spread across the east coast," said Kikta.   For Hill and Bryan-Branker, it is an opportunity to have a national broadcasting piece featured in their professional portfolios.  

"I had no prior voice over background and it was exciting to get to work on this project," said Bryan-Branker. "I got to learn more about microphones and recording equipment, as well as how to be more expressive vocally. As a musician, these concepts are some that I'll carry with me throughout my career. I am thankful to be able to use my voice to help promote Duquesne."  

The image campaign-which officially launched on Aug. 17-will appear on television, radio and digital platforms, as well as on social media platforms like YouTube and Snapchat. The commercial spot will appear within primetime programming such as Big Brother and the Emmy Awards ceremony.  

"From start to finish, everything was Duquesne," said Katy Broskey, advertising manager at Duquesne. "The music composition, narration, video strategy and all editing were all done in-house. It was really a great way to showcase the caliber of talent we have here at Duquesne across our faculty, staff and students."

Duquesne University

Founded in 1878, Duquesne is consistently ranked among the nation's top Catholic universities for its award-winning faculty and tradition of academic excellence. Duquesne, a campus of nearly 9,500 graduate and undergraduate students, has been nationally recognized for its academic programs, community service and commitment to sustainability. Follow Duquesne University on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
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