A New Way Forward: Responding to Community Needs
In the Summer 2020 issue of Chorus America's magazine, the Voice, we published a number of special features that highlighted the choral community's response in the wake of COVID-19. With in-person performances and rehearsals abruptly taken away, dozens of choral organizations showed their creativity by quickly finding new ways to make music and serve their communities.
Responding to Community Needs
Whether involving musical activities or not, some organizations have taken a step back and decided to refocus on some particular effort that can address a need in their community.
Miami Children's Chorus launched an initiative to provide free virtual choir instruction for all 3rd-12th graders in Miami-Dade County. Participants met virtually every week to rehearse, and to culminate the gatherings in late May the chorus created a virtual choir video that garnered television stories from local news outlets.
Encore Creativity for Older Adults launched Encore University, a six-week program enabling older adult singers from around the world to connect and participate in a variety of singing classes. The new university model, held in lieu of Encore’s in-person camp programs, allows for unlimited access to programming under one all-inclusive tuition fee—lowering a barrier in an effort to help older adults participate in group singing, which research shows can alleviate loneliness.
WomenSing of the Bay Area organized #StandingOvation, a virtual mini-concert by members and alumni honoring front-line workers, unveiled in September. The chorus is also hosting weekly public sing-alongs over Zoom.
The Symphonic Chorale of Southwest Florida established a Members Helping Members COVID Relief Fund to aid current chorale members in need of financial assistance during this crisis, including students and recent graduates just starting their careers and senior citizens on limited incomes. The chorale ran a campaign May 1–June 15 to encourage contributions from members, alumni, and the public. The chorale also plans to donate the remainder of any unused funds to local community food banks.
A group of over a dozen Washington DC-area choruses joined forces to provide a network of support to their local community, led by Choralis of Arlington, Virginia. The group has started by organizing a food drive among the participating choruses.