The closing plenary at the 2021 Chorus America Summer Conference, a panel discussion titled Personal Journeys, Collective Change, centered on Black voices in the choral community. The plenary served as a follow-up to a similar event at the 2020 gathering during which longtime African American choral leaders reflected on their careers and experiences. This year, representatives of a younger generation described the paths they have followed in choral music and where they find themselves today.
In the U.S., Canada, and across the globe, choral leaders are grappling with challenging questions as they prepare to emerge from the pandemic and gather in person to sing together again. Difficult decisions about masks, distancing, vaccinations, waivers, and other safety protocols need to be made and, in many cases, re-evaluated over the course of
the season. Themes emerging from conversations with a cross-section of choral leaders and industry experts suggest a framework that may help your decision-making process.
Sisters Emily and Amelia Nagoski are the authors of Burnout: The Secret to Unlocking the Stress Cycle, a book that explores how we experience stress physically, mentally, and emotionally, and what strategies we can use to process it, both inside and out. In exploring this topic, the sisters bring to bear their own perspectives, Emily as a researcher with a PhD in health behavior and Amelia as a choral conductor.
Under the pandemic, the only way for choruses to share concert experiences with their audiences has been online. Learning the ins and outs of video production posed an obvious challenge, but another, less apparent, obstacle has proven to be almost as imposing: licensing the music.
The process is complicated even for a single piece featured in a virtual choir production, but clearing rights for five or ten pieces to create a concert video can be exponentially more difficult. And although the end of the pandemic appears to be in sight, this challenge isn’t going away. For many choruses, a mix of online and in-person programming will become business as usual. We spoke with a cross-section of choral leaders, publishers, and music licensing specialists to create this primer for choruses planning to produce concert videos for online viewing.
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.
Many choruses and choral leaders are wondering if their organizations should require vaccination as a condition of returning to in-person rehearsal and performance as safely as possible. Their first question: “Is that even allowed?”
In the U.S., under federal law and current guidelines, choruses—like other private employers and organizations—can require staff, volunteers, and audiences to get vaccinated in most cases. Below you’ll find more detail about the guidelines around each of these cases, as well as some important things to consider.
Feature articles in the 2021 Spring Voice include
- Trendspotting: Choruses Look Beyond COVID
- Reimagining Relevance: The Key to Returning to Revenue
- Navigating New Rights Challenges with Online Concerts
- Beating Burnout and the Stress Cycle: An Interview with Conductor Amelia Nagoski