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Adapting to the 'new normal' with COVID-19

Mon Jun 22 2020

Message from the President - Dr. Debra Shearer-Dirié

We have made it through to the middle of June, nearly four months since many choirs in Australia had to stop meeting together in rehearsals because of the initial scare of the COVID-19 pandemic. I am sure there are many conductors and leaders of our choral organizations that feel very proud and creative as to how they have engaged with their members and kept the singing alive through this time. Unfortunately, however, we are not out of the woods yet with this pandemic. We don’t know if there is going to be another spike inactive cases, particularly with the gathering together of the protests in several cities and regional towns. We don’t know how the winter months are going to unfold and mix with the pandemic. And finally, but most importantly, there are still many things medical experts don’t know about this virus, particularly when it comes to the activity of singing. We are being guided by the Governments in each State as each State travels along their journey at different rates.
 
In conjunction with other associations, we recognise: 

  • The only definitive authority is State & Territory Health departments. 
  • There are significant differences in transmission and infection rates, levels of restrictions and easing of restrictions between the States and Territories. 
  • It appears that there are differences in transmission and infection rates between people of different ages.
  • The aerosols and droplets that are projected into the air while singing are dispersed further than when talking and these tiny particles can stay suspended in the air depending on the ventilation system in place. 

These are only a few suggested statements that have been presented by epidemiologists and health experts, but there is still much that is unknown about the COVID-19 virus, and for this reason, ANCA cannot say when choirs in Australia can or should return to face to face rehearsals. We are still assessing the situation on a day to day basis and need to adjust our short and long term outlooks on how we sing with each other whilst ensuring that whatever decisions are made, that the health and safety of our singers, conductors, accompanists is at the centre, minimizing the risk of community transmission. We cannot stress strongly enough the need to reintroduce singing together, whenever this happens in each State, in a cautious and methodical manner.

This may mean that only small groups of the choir can start rehearsing back together in each session. It also may mean that:

  • The rehearsal sessions need to be shorter,
  • The singers need to be more than the suggested social distance from each other (1.5 metres is not enough space between each person when singing),
  • There needs to be increased ventilation in the space,
  • You need to ensure every person signs-in when entering the rehearsal space (to ensure contact tracing if needed),
  • All surfaces are cleaned after each rehearsal,
  • Singers should stay home if they have any signs (even the most minute) of feeling unwell.

Every singing group in the country will have to assess their own situation as there are many variables that are at play here – age of singers, rehearsal space, high risk vulnerable people in the group. We are coming into the winter months when there generally tends to be more colds and flus. 

ANCA encourage all choirs to

  • Revisit the advice offered by their State Governments and health experts,
  • Create a COVID-safe policy, for the purposes of documentation
  • Encourage their singers to undertake individual and personal approaches to risk assessment and management
  • Make sure the safety of singers, the conductor, and the accompanist are being taking into consideration
  • Re-assess the situation on a daily basis depending on their State/region’s situation.

Each ANCA State Chapter is organizing webinar and/or discussion opportunities which allow choirs in each State to talk with other choir conductors and singers. I urge you to become a part of these discussions as you find a path back to singing with your group. 

On a much more positive note, we would like you to send in videos or recordings of what your choir has been up to over the last 4 months. We are sure there will be some absolutely magical musical moments that we would like to share with our ANCA community. More information below.

Over the next few months we look forward to hearing from choirs who are returning to singing together and hope that the music making experience will lift your spirits to great heights. 

Debra Shearer-Dirié
ANCA President 


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‘New Choral Composition Prize accepting entries’

 Bel a cappella’s inaugural Prize takes Australian music travelling

 Sydney chamber choir Bel a cappella will mark Music Director Anthony Pasquill’s 10 year anniversary with the choir with a tour to Russia and the Baltic in 2021. In early April they launched an initiative linked to the tour that promises to showcase new Australian music to the world.

The Bel a cappella Choral Composition Prize will award 3 Australian composers $1500 each for original a cappella choral works for up to 8 voice parts.  

Each of the 3 winning works will have its world premiere in one of the cities in the 2021 tour (to be chosen by the awarded composer), including St Petersburg, Stockholm, Helsinki, Tallin and Riga. Their Australian premiere will be at the next concert Bel performs upon their return to Australia.

Pasquill believes that Australian choral music certainly has the capacity to match the depth and breadth of that being composed and performed in the traditional choral music countries of northern Europe and this Prize will give him and Bel a cappella the opportunity to demonstrate that.

Choir president Bruce Watson says, "When we launched our fundraising campaign for this Prize we were excited about creating an opportunity to bring new Australian choral music to the world. Now we also know we'll be supporting some local composers through this terrible time when so much work for musicians has vanished." 

Bel a cappella believes their Choral Composition Prize will make a big difference to composers in this difficult time for the Arts across the globe, providing both a sense of creative purpose and significant prize money to the three awarded composers.

Bel a cappella Choral Composition Prize

ELIGIBILITY: The Prize is open to any individual who is a permanent resident of Australia or Australian citizen. There is no age limit.

PRIZE PERIOD OPENS: April 1, 2020

PRIZE PERIOD CLOSES: June 30, 2020

A panel of jurors will review entries and award the 3 Prizes on July 31, 2020

Information/ Web: https://belacappella.org.au/composition-prize

Contact: Pepe Newton | Publicity Officer | publicity@belacappella.org.au  | m 0412 548 703

See the attached flyer for more information. 

 

 

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