The Association of British Choral Directors published an interesting research paper which was put together by their Editor in Chief, Martin Ashley. The paper is lengthy, but Hit the Note thought it was interesting to pull out a few key messages from the information. The paper cites the horrific experience of a choir of 130 singers who performed the St John Passion at a church in Amsterdam just before lockdown in March of last year. Of those 130, 102 fell ill with one choir member losing his life along with three partners of choir members. Clearly, Covid has the potential to be devastating due to the droplet infection which can occur during singing.
The main conclusions made by this paper at the time were as follows:
The evidence confirmed that choral singing in enclosed spaces is a high-risk activity.
The key strategies for risk assessment and control will become more apparent as the pandemic develops.
There is a wide variation in the circumstances under which choirs operate e.g. age of choristers, number of choristers, performance environment, duration of performance etc.
The reintroduction of choral singing is likely to have to be accompanied by appropriate risk management protocols and support will be necessary for choirs in assessing risk and introducing effective controls.
It may well be that the 'old normal' may never come back. It may well be that on-line part learning and even online practice becomes more prevalent and choirs will have to get used to the new technologies in this respect.
It is probable that physical spacing or “social distancing” may be part of everyday life for some time to come.
It is hoped of course that with the use of 'lockdowns' and the introduction of an effective vaccine strategy, choirs will indeed be able to return to near normal singing. Hit the Note will be keeping abreast of the latest developments and will be producing advice and 'risk assessment' templates etc for choirs to try to assist them in returning to what we love ...........singing !