Covid-related regulations for non-professional choirs
With the Government continuing to vacillate and exhibit incoherence regarding the risks involved with the Indian variant, finding the latest Covid-related regulations for non-professional choirs has become an exercise in patience, determination and tenacity.
On Tuesday May 18th we eventually discovered updated guidance from the Government/DCMS by using the Google search "amateur choirs Covid-19" which took us to a somewhat obscure link:
Here it states that non-professional singers should be limited to a single group of 6 indoors, which means we cannot yet return to "in-person" rehearsals indoors.
DCMS confirmed to Classic FM: “We must take a cautious and phased approach in easing restrictions. Changes in step three in line with wider social contact rules mean an amateur choir or performance group of up to six people or two households can now sing indoors, and outdoors in groups of up to 30.”
So good to know that the well-being of non-professional choirs such as ours appears to be right at the forefront of the Government's road-map to get us all back singing again !!!! (We wish!!)
Lastest Government Guidance for Choirs
The latest Government guidance on singing is aimed at professionals but the principles should still apply to recreational Choirs.
Reopening Cultural Life in the UK - a plea for help
Although we sincerely hope that you enjoy the performances from The Virtual Sinfonia Chorale, we feel that we must look to the future and plan for the return to our more conventional way of performing.
We therefore wish to bring to your attention (if you haven't already been made aware of this) the campaign that has steadily been gathering momentum throughout the country, and request that all supporters of Choral Singing take action as detailed below in the hope of a successful conclusion for all of us....
It has been suggested by many prominent musicians that we need to let the Government know that choirs in the UK need some advice and some answers. The Culture Secretary, Oliver Dowden, has set up a task force to help re-open cultural life - but this task force does not include a single musician amongst its members! We need representation. We need to let the Culture Secretary know that choirs and choral singing are a vital part of life in the UK. Richard Morrison, in a recent Times article, pointed out that there are 70,000 choirs in the UK, nearly all of which are in suspended animation. Yet no one in Government is providing advice on where we can go next, despite there being a taskforce looking at how to reopen cultural life. We need to ask the Government to commission some authoritative scientific advice, and it is suggested that we each individually email the Culture Secretary, Oliver Dowden, at this email address:- email@example.com
A possible form of wording for an email is given here:
Dear Secretary of State,
I draw your attention to an article in The Times of 8th June by Richard Morrison, headlined "Will no one in Government stand up for British choirs?"
Here he points out that there are 70,000 choirs in the UK, nearly all of which are in suspended animation.
There are therefore well over a million people who would love to resume singing, an activity with well-known associated physical and mental health benefits, but who of course wish to restart only when it is safe to do so.
What all choirs need is authoritative, independent, scientifically based advice on, inter alia:
What national and local conditions must be met to ensure safety?
What configuration(s) should choirs adopt in rehearsals, and also in performance?
Is there any type of PPE that is effective and practical for choral singers?
Any guidance on social distancing and other measures which may need to be put in place in venues that choirs and orchestras put on public performances, to ensure that audience members feel safe to attend?
Please will your Department commission this research, to be completed and published by the end of July 2020?
(your signature, and choir or organisation you belong to)
It is suggested that you copy the email to
- your MP
- Radio 4 Front Row : firstname.lastname@example.org
- BBC Newsnight : NEWSNIGHT@bbc.co.uk
KEEP WELL - KEEP SAFE - KEEP SINGING!
The Sinfonia Chorale
The Choir goes Virtual again!
The Sinfonia Chorale's second venture into the world of Virtual Singing is brought to you in the shape of English Renaissance composer William Byrd's Ave verum Corpus.
Byrd (c.1543 - 1623) wrote in many of the forms current in England at the time, including various types of sacred and secular polyphony, keyboard (the so-called Virginalist school), and consort music.
Although he produced sacred music for Anglican services, sometime during the 1570s he became a Roman Catholic and wrote Catholic sacred music later in his life.
This virtual performance includes the added bonus of our resident Musical Director, Richard Roddis, conducting the Choir from the safety of his own home which has added greatly to the ensemble, and is complemented by Byrd's Earl of Salisbury Pavane played by Michael Overbury, the Choir's accompanist, on his own harpsichord.
This video is dedicated to all other choirs in isolation.
The Choir goes Virtual!
The Sinfonia Chorale - finding themselves in a similar situation to many other similarly talented Choirs from around the country, decided to adopt the well-known maxim - "If you can't beat them, join them".
So, with a bit of cajoling and arm-twisting (preserving a social distance!), several Members joined virtual forces and produced a work, (not exactly their best ever, and aptly described by their Director as having "novelty value") which is presented here for general entertainment in these difficult times.
Apologies are due to the late Thomas Morley (1557–1602) who wrote the original madrigal.
Whether or not he would have approved of the modern light-hearted lyrics is up for discussion, but having now had a taste of this new medium and with a completely new set of techniques to master, many of the Choir are looking forward to their next virtual performance - complete with virtual conductor - so watch this space for the next enthralling episode.