Leading North West choir, the Salford Choral Society, has been adapting to life in a pandemic by continuing to rehearse and perform using online platforms.
The choir comprises 100 singers from across Greater Manchester and has been established since 1947, as part of the post-war regeneration of arts programme, which was instigated by the local council.
In past years they have been featured on BBC Songs of Praise, BBC Philharmonic and more quirkily, some members have even sang to test out some double glazing for the Channel 4 programme Double Your House!
Last Saturday the group performed Mozart’s Requiem online, broadcast from St Clements Church and the singers own homes. Their musical director and conductor Tom Newall expressed that it was just as important for their members as it was for their regular audience.
— Tom Newall Conductor (@TomNewallMusic) October 30, 2020
Tom said: “It was abundantly clear to us all that the choir had to keep together. This is a really strong, vibrant choral community. Some of the members have been part of the choir since before I was even alive.
“It’s by no means easy to make music work well on Zoom. What I tried to do was understand the constraints we had on Zoom and design a near as normal rehearsal as possible.
“I think it’s really important that we’ve done all this though. Imagine the feeling of isolation, not being able to see or speak to anybody over lockdown. At first it felt strange and new but the situation has demanded that we upskill. Nine months down the road I have my way of working well.
“We continued with the concerts because when you’re working week in week out with a group, you’ve got to have something to focus on.”
The choir is preparing for their upcoming online performances later in the year, Messiah on Dec 12 and their annual Christmas carol concert on Dec 19.
The choir’s publicity officer Carolyn Saltmarsh explains why using online rehearsals may be the way forward for some of their members, even after Covid: “There will be some members who, maybe during the winter, will find transport too difficult, and continuing to put videos of rehearsals online would be good for them too.
“This has opened our eyes to what is available and what technology can do- something what we’ve never had to consider before.
“It’s just fantastic that we’ve been able to keep this community going and we are really looking forward to being able to get back to singing together again.”
Even Bella the dog has been getting involved with rehearsals at home!