Silver linings: The Choral Community Singing as One
If the last couple of weeks has shown us anything, it is that the choir community in the UK is exactly that: one big community. Choirs of all shapes and sizes have been hit by the guidance issued on Tuesday 18th May, whether they are community groups providing help and support for those feeling isolated by the long lockdown, or large choruses preparing for major festivals and all sorts in between.
Within all this mayhem, one social media post has stood out. Ian Assersohn posted on the Association of British Choral Director’s Facebook page the following:
“You shouldn't have to do this. You shouldn't have to bugger about with portable keyboards and garden chairs and umbrellas and coats and clothes pegs and God knows what other equipment just to be able to hold some kind of rehearsal with half your choir.
But, for some unknown reason, it is so. And once again, and for the umpteenth time, choir directors around the country are being amazing, and somehow finding ways to bring the joys of singing together to their choirs.
And all I really want to say is: well done. It's really impressive. I have never been more proud to be involved in this enterprise than I am right now."
This post hits the nail hard on the head. Once again, choir leaders and committees have shown the world what a resilient and creative bunch they are. But Ian is quite right: we shouldn’t have to be doing this. Now should be the time when choirs are safely, and happily rekindling the sense of fellowship and community that makes them thrive.
One group that has been underrepresented in all this is the choir leader that runs their choir as a small business. These people, highlighted in the article posted on BBC News on Tuesday 25th May, have seen their successful businesses taken away from them in a heartbeat, many having to supplement their earnings by taking temporary jobs which ultimately detract from their professional goals. This writer is one of the lucky ones: supported by committees and, though reliant on the income, with a clear safety net for more difficult periods. This is not the case for choir leaders as small businesses, so further delays to their reopening such as this continue to cause concern and anxiety.
It has however been so gratifying to see the wave of support across social media, news outlets, TV and radio. Project Get Singing have collected together a number of interviews that have featured this news over the past week and you can listen back to them here: https://www.mdbrunch.uk/media-gallery. These stories all help to bring the issue more clearly to the general public, many of which are oblivious to the contradictions the guidance creates.
And don’t forget to sign and share the petition. At the time of writing, it’s nearing the halfway point for a parliamentary debate: https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/586559