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What have we been up to?

What have we been up to?

It’s the question on everyone’s mind. What have we been up to? If you or your singer aren’t currently in the choir, you might not know the great news… we are back! I am excited to announce that our New World Singers have returned to in-person rehearsals. While they look very different, we are all very excited to be back and singing together.

Much of my summer was spent reading the research and developing a plan to bring our singers back to in-person rehearsals. After three months of researching many scientific articles, attending webinars, and speaking with Artistic Directors from around the world, we opened our rehearsal rooms to our top choir, New World Singers, on September 15th. In order to make our rehearsals safe as possible, we are following all of the proper protocols. Singers are placed six feet apart, rehearsals are taking place in two half-hour sessions with a room change after each half hour in order disinfect and air the room for the next ensemble. HVAC systems have been turned off and all windows and doors open, and yes, we are wearing masks while we sing!

Our singers have been placed into seven ensembles. While I wasn’t sure how the singers would feel about the small ensembles, the overwhelming response is “they love it” and are happy to be back. For many it is the return to the normalcy they have longed for, while for others it is the ability to see their choir friends, and for some it is the pure love of music and singing that they have missed. No matter their reason for wanting to be back in-person, they come into each rehearsal with a pep in their step and a smile on their face.

For me it is the opportunity to slow down and focus more on the individual musicianship and vocal development of my singers. When we meet as a full ensemble, it is easy to know what the whole is doing but much harder to know the growth of the individual as an independent musician.  For the singers, it presents an opportunity to grow as leaders in their knowledge and confidence. These highly developed skills will make them very valuable to any choir.

There are several people that have a behind the scenes hand in our successful return. First, we are thankful for the work of our program manager, Tammy Gebara. Tammy mans the door, greeting singers as they arrive to and depart from rehearsal. She also disinfects and prepares each rehearsal room for the next ensemble. We are fortunate to have two wonderful choir managers, Valerie Peart and Carol Tewalt, who work tirelessly to keep our singers safe and happy. We are truly blessed to have these people on our team. Finally, I cannot say enough about the dedication and commitment of my accompanist, Chad Baker, who is working with individual ensembles as both an accompanist and director. Without him it would have been impossible to split the choir into seven ensembles, making our return nothing more than a pipe dream.

While New World Singers is the only choir rehearsing in-person, our artistic staff; Sarah Santilli – Santa Maria Choir, Molly Rule – Pinta Choir, Tracy Conway – Nina Choir, and MaryRebekah Fortman – Isabella Choir, Rachel Fox – young musicians, and Angie Cover – piano are doing an amazing job running virtual rehearsals. As we monitor the success of New World Singers and the spread of COVID-19, we will slowly look to bring our other ensemble back in-person.

We are resilient and determined to work hard to keep music alive and look forward to the time when we can once again perform for our audiences. To paraphrase Stephen Sondheim, we are working with art, which in itself, is an attempt to bring order out of the chaos. Our art is singing and we are triumphing over the chaos of this pandemic!

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