During the coronavirus pandemic, we've seen choruses in places and using tools online that we've never seen before. One constant in all these methods of invention is a shared purpose - finding a way to create that same sense of connection brought by experiencing choral music together. The collection of virtual projects below is an example of the broad range of formats that choruses have discovered to keep fostering that connection.
The Washington Chorus - TWC TV
In D.C., The Washington Chorus is using the talk show format to celebrate the joy and art of singing together. Hosted by executive director Stephen Marc Beaudoin, TWC TV incorporates special guests (seen above with arts critic Patrick D. McCoy), live in-home performances, and impromptu quizzes to enliven viewers' spirits. The inaugural episode kicked off last week, and new episodes will stream every Thursday at 5pm ET. In its upcoming episode, TWC TV welcomes Washington Performing Arts CEO Jenny Bilfield, professional baritone Sidney Outlaw, and D.C.-based professional singers Jerry and Susan Kavinski.
Zamir Chorale of Boston - Podcasts in a Time of Corona
The Zamir Chorale of Boston and its founder and artistic director, Joshua Jacobson, have been leaders in educating the choral field about the breadth and beauty of Jewish choral music, launching the project JewishChoralMusic.com last year. So it made sense for Jacobson and Zamir to fill the role of sharing Jewish choral works that can comfort us in a trying time. JewishChoralMusic.com has introduced Podcasts in a Time of Corona, a series that shares short inspirational musical messages from the Zamir Chorale of Boston, narrated for context and background by Jacobson.
Cantus - The COVID-19 Sessions
During the week of March 15 - as performance cancellations began to snowball, but public health guidelines in many areas still permitted small gatherings of people - the professional 8-member TTBB ensemble Cantus filmed a collection of videos while it was still possible to sing together in person. The group is releasing The COVID-19 Sessions over a series of weeks to help its community through a period of isolation with a gift of very timely live-recorded ensemble music. The project hits home for Cantus, as such a large source of its revenue comes from touring, and its 25th anniversary gala and concert are indefinitely postponed.
Bay Area Children's Choirs Keep Singing Through Coronavirus
Northern California public media entity KQED recently published a feature on how children and youth choruses are using technology in various ways to keep their choristers singing through the pandemic. Some, like Piedmont East Bay Children's Choirs, are conducting virtual rehearsals, similar to many community choruses. Others are trying alternate ways to stay connected. Community Music Center Children’s Chorus is uploading short instructional videos to help students practice on their own, to work around internet access issues at home that prevent participation in virtual rehearsals. Ragazzi Boys Chorus is asking its singers to send videos of their practicing at home to their directors, and providing individual feedback - something that the chorus has never had as much time to do. The piece even included a quote from Chorus America president and CEO Catherine Dehoney on the importance of staying connected for young people.