On March 9th, 2021, it was a year since the members of the Bucks County Women’s Chorus (BCWC) last rehearsed together.
The singers in the 95-voice all-female chorus would have never dreamed that a time would come when singing in an ensemble would be dangerous, but there’s much evidence to show that singing is a COVID-19 super-spreader.
Nevertheless, when the group suspended rehearsals last year, they never thought they would be apart for such a long time.
But now, says the ensemble’s artistic director Pat Guth, with about a third of the ensemble already vaccinated and more scheduled for their first dose in the near future, it’s finally time to look to the future and begin to imagine what it will be like to be back together again. She’s hoping that happens in September…or maybe sooner.
“I can picture that first rehearsal,” she says with a smile. “There will be lots of hugging, crying, laughing, and – of course – singing.”
“We’re a tight-knit group,” she goes on to explain. “And even though we meet on Zoom a few times a week for a variety of activities, it doesn’t replace being together and hearing those amazing harmonies. My guess is everyone – me included – will be overwhelmed with emotion on that first Monday night when we’re back together.”
Pat adds that when she logged on to a webinar back in May 2020 about COVID-19 and the fate of musical ensembles, she didn’t believe what the experts were saying. She remembers listening to an immunologist telling the anxious crowd that it would be 18-24 months before choral groups could sing together again. That’s just not possible, she thought, though now she realizes the doctor was pretty much spot on.
As a result, BCWC missed a lot of amazing opportunities that were to happen during 2020. The ensemble had to cancel its April performance tour to Athens and the Greek Islands, were supposed to sing at the Philadelphia Thanksgiving Day Parade, and had hoped to return to the White House Holiday Open House for the third year in a row. Those were tough blows for the group – especially the cancelled trip – but Pat says there’s plenty planned for 2021-2022, the ensemble’s 10th anniversary year.
About 50 members are signed up to go to Ireland in May 2022 and the group is sponsoring a large choral festival the month before that. She also hopes they’ll have another opportunity to sing in the Thanksgiving Day Parade and plans to send an audition track to the White House again for consideration for a December concert at The People’s House.
“This has been a tough year,” Pat concedes, “but we are finally seeing a light at the end of the tunnel”
She guesses members will have to be vaccinated in order to participate in rehearsals and concerts, at least for now, and knows things will look a bit different than they did pre-pandemic. She hopes venues will still be excited about hosting the ensemble and prays that all of the members are able to return without fear.
“We just want it to be like it was before 2020,” she explains, “but we’re willing to accept some reasonable facsimile of the choir we once were because we recognize it probably won’t be.”
In the meantime, as they wait out these last few months, BCWC members will keep heading to Zoom for fun and fellowship. And while it’s not the same, it suffices for now.
“Sometimes seeing each other’s faces is all we need to set the week right,” Pat explains. “A smile and a happy word from a ‘singing sister’ can make all the difference in the world.”
For more info on the choir, e-mail Pat Guth at email@example.com or call 215-801-1445.