During the 2020 holiday season, singers, groups, and organizations shifted in the face of the ongoing global health crisis and produced virtual or recorded holiday performances. This December, fueled by love for singing, the desire to share joy, and an emphasis on health and safety protocols, choruses adjusted to the times, and shared holiday glee with live audiences once again in innovative ways. Here we spotlight a few unique performances filled with the holiday spirit from this year’s season!
As early as May 2020, researchers identified COVID-19 to be highly transmissible through singing and choral musicians had to pivot quickly. Overnight, music educators and choral conductors became experts in planning asynchronous Zoom rehearsals and producing virtual choirs, allowing their ensembles to continue creating through the pandemic.
As optimism for the return to live gatherings cautiously dawns, it’s time to commence the work of rebuilding your choral organization’s capabilities and re-engaging its audiences. Building on “Asking Thru Adversity,” his breakout presentation at the Chorus America Winter Conference, leadership and community engagement consultant Matt Lehrman offers this guide to focusing your efforts.
BY HOLLY J. KELLAR
Across North America and around the world, the COVID-19 pandemic changed the choral landscape. A year later, hope is on the horizon, with vaccinations happening and tentative first steps to slowly reopen entertainment venues. But choral leaders know that the reverberations of the pandemic will be felt for years to come. We asked six choral leaders to give us their thoughts on what the future will bring, and the lessons of the past year.
BY KATHERINE CASTILLE
As it became clear the COVID-19 pandemic would wear on for months, many choruses launched digital initiatives to keep their music and their message in front of their audiences. Those with digital strategies already in place have stepped up their efforts. Others are just beginning to navigate this new frontier. All of them are learning valuable lessons about what digital content their audiences want and are willing to pay for.
With some help from Silicon Valley, we may be on our way to overcoming the choral field’s most persistent hurdle during the pandemic—latency from internet connections that prevents choruses from truly being able to hear each other and sing together synchronously online. Software entrepreneur Mike Dickey, a parent of the Ragazzi Boys Chorus of San Mateo, California, worked with Stanford University researchers to develop a technology platform called JackTrip Virtual Studio that makes real-time remote singing possible with common internet connections.
In a year when choruses and audiences are not able to gather in concert venues for some of their most beloved and time-honored traditions, many groups are coming up with new ways to celebrate the season.