Lee Choral Society: keeping the singing going

Richard, Andrew, Angie and Carolyn have all worked extremely hard over the past year to keep the singing going and ensure that we have choirs to go back to eventually. It’s a sad fact that many choirs have folded, some never to return. While we can all appreciate the hard work they do, do any of us really realise exactly what the work of an MD entails, and how it has changed during lockdown?

A friend – ex-journalist and now MD of several choirs up in the Liverpool area – wrote an account of her lockdown choir experience which she has very kindly allowed me to share with you. I think it will make you appreciate our “gang of four” even more! I don’t think it’s very far removed from Richard and Andrew’s experiences at least, for sure!

“Live, full-length concert: prepare score thoroughly, plan rehearsals, rehearse lots, practice on own, perform, enjoy the subsequent adrenaline rush and audience and choir reaction. Relax with a glass of wine or a cup of tea.

Recorded three-minute piece for a virtual choir performance: prepare score thoroughly, record every part (multiple times, with cutting and pasting to correct any bits that are incorrect as you’re not used to singing tenor), record soprano again as levels need tweaking, transpose bass and tenor down an octave, set volume so one part is prominent and export to create rehearsal track, repeat for all other parts, record video of you conducting the piece (multiple takes until you get it spot on, because conducting to an invisible choir is harder), transfer all files to location accessible by whole choir, plan rehearsal, set up all audiovisual equipment, send Zoom link, do rehearsal with all choir on mute, write comprehensive instructions on how to record, watch YouTube tutorials on new video editing software, learn how to use software, receive tracks and videos from choir members, edit together audio, edit together video, make it look pretty, wait three centuries for it to render, wait another three centuries for it to upload to the cloud, then set about making sure the person who needs it has it. Collapse on floor with exhaustion. Tea gone cold due to neglect.

I mean, I’ve learnt lots of new skills, but I will be a happy chappy when I can go back to conducting singers in person..!“

Several members of LCSVirtual belong to the national choral charity organisation Sing for Pleasure. In “normal life” SfP run singing courses and events, plus conductor training, in different parts of the country throughout the year, including a very successful and popular summer school at Keele University in Staffordshire over the course of a week each August. Over the past 12 months they have made the shift to the online world and have run a succession of short series of webinars on a wide range of subjects, in addition to a Virtual Summer School last August. They are now beginning to gear up again for real live events and will soon have some dates on their calendar.


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