A Letter from Catherine Dehoney
President and CEO, Chorus America
Our community was hit very hard by the information in a webinar presented by Chorus America and some of our colleague organizations on Tuesday, “What Do Science and Data Say about the Near Term Future of Singing.” We’ve heard and read your reactions expressing strong emotions: grief, disbelief, anger, and—in some cases—steely determination to find a way forward. We share those emotions too.
No matter how much research you have read, it is shocking and saddening to hear medical experts explain the health risks facing us and the measures they recommend to guarantee a safe rehearsal or concert. As both doctors interviewed on the webinar said, there is much we don’t know yet and more developments to come. But the facts and research make it clear that we won’t be singing together again – in the way that we’re used to – as soon as we hoped.
There is a lot of pain, loss, and uncertainty right now across our field. That’s where we are, and it’s important to allow space for these feelings—but I assure you that’s not where we’re going to leave it. There are big questions ahead including: How can we respond? How will we move forward? What will that look like?
One thing I know for sure is that we will answer those questions together. I’ve been encouraged to see how many of you feel that the choral community’s creativity and vision will rise to meet the challenges ahead. I’ve been inspired by your rallying calls to action, from redoubling efforts to solve technology challenges for virtual ensemble singing, to partnering with the medical community to support vaccine development, to mobilizing into an advocacy force that can give collective voice to our field like never before.
I keep coming back to the words of Ahmed Anzaldúa, founder of Border CrosSing (MN), written a few hours after Tuesday’s webinar:
"We are grieving because our music is our identity, it is at the core of who we are... what we're losing isn't just a hobby. However, that connection is also our power: our process will always find a way to enable us to tell those stories and connect with each other. Once we figure it out in this new circumstance, the need to tell stories and find human connection always wins out."
I, too, believe that we will always find a way.
So I promise you this: Chorus America will continue to seek solutions and respond to questions with the latest expertise available. We will continue to share new information as it unfolds during this challenging time. We will continue to hold up the amazing work that our community does, and to explore what is possible together. We will continue to advocate for the power of choral singing to create vibrant communities and effect meaningful change.
We share this time of loss and uncertainty with you. We also know that the music we love and the music-making that has thrived for millennia across all kinds of cultures and hardships will not go away. We will not go away.
The latest news hit us hard, but Chorus America is not leaving it here, and we won’t leave you here either.
Find the May 5 webinar recording and related resources on our emerging resource page for safely reopening.