Choral Return: Long-Awaited But Complicated

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Most amateur choirs in Quebec have ceased or considerably slowed their activities since March 2020. The start of the 2021 choral season promises to have more freedom, although many constraints are still in place.

The limit of 25 people allowed to meet in the same room is a major constraint for choirs, which often have more than double this number. About 75% of choirs in the Alliance chorale du Québec fall into this category, representing nearly 14,000 singers who are directly affected. The situation creates a major logistical challenge for amateur choirs, which often have limited means and cannot contemplate an increase in expenses, especially after greatly reduced income for a year and a half.

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The government’s decision not to impose the vaccine passport on amateur choirs surprised many; however, “some cities or community centres require their tenants to have a vaccine passport,” says Roxanne Croteau, executive director of the Alliance and conductor of the Chœur Sainte-Dorothée de Laval. “It becomes quite a headache.”

Studies conducted since the start of the pandemic have shown that choral singing is a risky activity, mainly because of aerosol transmission. Wearing a properly fitted procedural mask and ventilating rehearsal rooms are two important elements in the fight against transmission of the virus.

After an abrupt end of the season in March 2020, the Chœur Sainte-Dorothée resumed its activities virtually during 2020-2021. This fall marks the return of in-person rehearsals. “We have more than 50 choristers, so we divide our group by doing hybrid rehearsals with half the choristers on site and half virtual,” Croteau explains. “The two groups alternate from week to week. This at least allows everyone to hear the four voices, which is not possible when we are only virtual. For all the rest, we hope for clarity and security, of course. The important thing for us is to share moments of harmony and to get out of these doldrums.”

Because of the current situation, few choirs will be performing concerts in the coming weeks. The following are scheduled at the time of going to press:

Les Voix de la Montagne present Euphonie on
Oct. 2 at the Église du Très-Saint-Nom-de-Jésus.

The St. Lawrence Choir will perform the four brevis Masses of J.S. Bach on Nov. 27 at Saint-Jean-Baptiste Church.

Voces Boreales will tour Quebec with the
Chemin des miracles in September and October.

The Ottawa Classical Choir is webcasting excerpts from Haydn’s The Creation along with Bach, Brahms and Bruckner motets starting Oct. 6.

This page is also available in / Cette page est également disponible en: Francais (French)


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