How Choruses are Celebrating Religious Occasions Virtually During COVID-19

*Also, see COVID-19 features on community singing outlets, new choral broadcasts, expanding virtual creative communities, and varied formats of finding connection.

Choral singing and religious celebrations - two activities that involve large gatherings. Two practices that are often intertwined. Two types of events that cannot be held during our current health crisis. This week, millions across the world are searching to bridge a gap in their lives, compounded by the absence of two highly anticipated traditions that converge at this time every year, but that cannot be experienced in the same way as under normal circumstances. Several choral organizations are adapting their traditions to help mark these occasions that hold special significance to so many.

The Tabernacle Choir - Messiah Stream

In light of its canceled Friday and Saturday performances of Handel's iconic oratorio - a biennial tradition - The Tabernacle Choir and Orchestra at Temple Square will be streaming a performance of Messiah on Friday, 7:00pm MT. The Tabernacle Choir has created a hub on its website where the performance can be streamed live or watched later on demand, and the page highlights plenty of resources and background information for enjoying the work, even including instructions for playing Messiah using Amazon's Alexa over the weekend.

Royal Choral Society - Hallelujah Chorus Virtual Choir

Another traditional Messiah performance - one which was canceled this year for only the third time since 1876 - is given every Good Friday by the Royal Choral Society, the resident chorus of London's Royal Albert Hall. On their customary performance day, in lieu of a full performance, Royal Choral Society released a video of their choristers, conductor, and organist performing a virtual choir version of "Hallelujah Chorus," encouraging music lovers everywhere to join them.

Zamir Chorale of Boston - Recordings from the Passover Seder

The Zamir Chorale of Boston - whom we also recently featured for their Podcasts During a Time of Corona - have been posting recordings of and reflections on choral works that set text traditionally recited during the Jewish Passover Seder. Zamir's latest offering is a video complete with subtitles of synagogue composer David Nowakowski's setting of Psalm 115.

Leipzig BachFest - St. John Passion from St. Thomas Church

In the original vision of Bach Festival Leipzig artistic director Michael Maul, 5,000 singers were to join a small ensemble to perform J.S. Bach's St. John Passion in Leipzig's Market Square on June 13. Instead, with 2020 Leipzig Bachfest canceled due to COVID-19, five ensemble singers joined three instrumentalists and a tenor soloist to perform the work on Good Friday inside Bach's St. Thomas Church, streamed live on Facebook. Choirs and artists who were to participate in 2020 Leipzig Bachfest were incorporated into the performance via video, and publishers Carus-Verlag made the sheet music for the chorales available on its website for listeners to download and sing along.

Chapel of King's College, Cambridge - Easter at King's

Known around the world for its choral tradition and annual Nine Lessons and Carols Christmas Eve service, The Choir at King's College, Cambridge will be featured in BBC Two's Saturday evening broadcast Easter at King's, sharing readings and recordings of some of the best-loved choral music of the season.