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Continuing through the Pandemic – A conductors reflection

Continuing through the Pandemic – A conductors reflection

A second year of the COVID-19 pandemic as Community Choir Leaders was, of course, full of many challenges.  That doesn’t mean to say there weren’t many deep blessings along the way.

The big challenge: “How do we keep our choirs connected, inspired and singing through the various lockdowns and restrictions, in these times where opportunities for healthy, joyous human connection are needed more than ever?”

We can be super-proud of how each choir and WOV as a whole, found creative ways to achieve this.

Technology empowering WOV Conductors to outreach not only to our own local choir members, but way beyond our own backyards is something for which I know we are all entirely grateful.

Not only were we able to keep being employed in the job we love (no small feat), we were able to continue to use music to help ease isolation and loneliness, to bring joy and vital human connection when these were critically important for communities experiencing crisis.

Although we were “all in this together”, every region had its own situation and each choir its own story.

Some of our choirs were heavily affected by 2021’s COVID-19 ever-evolving situation, particularly those in Melbourne and Sydney which endured lengthy (dare I say brutal, but life-saving) shutdowns and restrictions.  Other choirs hardly even needed to don a mask and continued on pretty much as usual!

Our great silver lining was that we actually came together more as a national community than we had before the pandemic.  We found ways of operating which brought our beautiful WOV choir communities around Australia together on a regular basis.

Conductors connected with other more too through regular Zoom Meetings, accompanied by drinks, nibblies and much cheer.  What a blessing to not feel alone as a Leader!

We continued to deliver an impressive program of weekly singing gatherings on the WOV Live Facebook channel; sessions which were a lifeline for many, including for the Conductors presenting them.

Through WOV Live, we saw the development of an “inter-choir” online community of people from around Australia and even overseas, WOV members or not.  I got quite used to saying “Good morning” to folks in the UK when it was night-time in Australia.  I even learned to say  “Goedemorgen” to our ‘streamers in Holland, albeit poorly pronounced.   I did get better at it as time went on, thanks to instruction from our lovely Dutch participants.

Borders being closed or open meant nothing when we came together to sing every night, wherever we were,   We truly rose above, soaring on the wings of our shared love of song.

Zoom video parties showcasing both choristers and conductors were a highlight. These “Zooms” supplemented and complemented the Facebook Livestreams.

Some choirs did manage to sing together in person for a good part of 2021. I was grateful that in Brisbane we did.  Sure, I lost lose count of how many times I rewrote our choir COVID-Safety policies and procedures.  Who knew that being a musician would lead me to become an expert in devising health protocols for community choirs!?  It was completely well worth it for us to able to more safely sing together between those lockdowns.  And how lucky are we that we live in a country where we can perform outdoors most of the year!

2021 also brought us nourishing opportunities for inter-choir collaboration.  The WOV Australia original music-video project We All Sing Together was a platform for creative and artistic expression by the broader WOV Australia community.  My accomplice Jay Turner and I were thrilled to be involved in literally bringing together many diverse voices in the audio track and then to see the video come together led by WOV Dandenong’s awesome leaders, Nicki and Craig.

What a fun and apt way to celebrate and demonstrate WOV’s resilience, creative energy and optimism for the year ahead as we emerge from the shadow of the pandemic stronger than before.

Long may WOV continue to bring healing, joy and connection across the planet through the power of song.

 

Cath Mundy

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