Updated: May 7, 2020
Normally, the Harbour Lights Community Choir meets every Thursday evening in Amble to sing together. The 55 strong choral group, with members ranging from younger adults to seniors over 80, had a busy schedule planned for this Spring, including singing Carmina Burana as part of Alnwick Sings! at The Sage in Newcastle in May. But in mid-March the world changed. Suddenly everything stopped. No performances, no rehearsals, no Thursday evenings together.
Shortly after weekly live rehearsals were cancelled, Sarah Gray, Choir Leader, discovered the Zoom conference call platform and started to explore how it might be used to bring the choir members together.
Zoom allows many people to call in and see everyone on their computer screens and talk to them. But often, there is a slight delay. For a performance that’s all about being in sync with each other, that can be maddening. So Sarah sets it up so that everyone's microphone is muted. Choir members are able to sing along at home and are able to hear Sarah's voice - but not each others.
“My mic is live, I sing and they sing along. I don’t hear them singing, they can’t hear each other singing,” she said. Nevertheless, “It’s incredible. Seeing them sing and not being able to hear them sing, the visual becomes very powerful."
Right now many musicians have taken to performing solo work from their homes, streaming online, in order to maintain physical isolation during the COVID-19 pandemic. But for some kinds of music, like a community choir, being together in the same space is essential. Being together is the whole point.