From the Interim Choirmaster & Organist- October Manifest
I hope that you are staying well, and above all, keeping the faith. This time can indeed be overwhelming when so many things before us remain yet unclear. It is affirming to me that, over the course of these past few months, we have been able to safely reintegrate congregational singing, and last month, to reintroduce a portion of the Epiphany Choir with our new section leaders. Hearing and participating in live, choral music once again within its proper, liturgical setting has brought me great joy, and has been a cause for hope. I am happy to state that we indeed plan to go forward in safely reintroducing the volunteer choir members to the Epiphany Choir. Their first Sunday back will be Sunday, 10 October at the 10:30 am Eucharist.
After having consulted a significant number of church music directors and school music teachers both in New York City, and well-beyond––in places from Toronto, Canada, Arlington, VA, to San Francisco––it is consistent that many communities this Fall 2021 Choral Season are proceeding with caution. Some churches have not yet reintroduced adult volunteer choirs, and some are not yet participating in congregational singing. The issue is not so much the vaccinated, but the unvaccinated children who, unfortunately, are not yet eligible. As we have learned, singing can indeed be a significant transmitter of the virus, and we know, too, that vaccinated adults, even without any symptoms, can transmit the virus to unvaccinated people (children). With COVID cases currently rising in some local schools, and considering that most returning children’s choirs are designated to in-residence choristers who live in community and/or have resources to frequent testing (like at St. Thomas, Fifth Ave), it seems prudent for us, at Church of the Epiphany, to reconsider the decision to resume children’s choir in the New Year. When young children are able to be vaccinated, I personally believe that it would be a “no-brainer” that we return to children’s choir rehearsals; however, as we haven’t reached that point as of yet, this inconveniently complicates things. Unfortunately, as you know, there is no “clear answer” to all of this, and different churches have a variety of ways in which their music programs are “returning to normal,” or operating on a new, altered schedule. In the meantime, please be assured of my devotion to consistent progression in our music program as we hopefully exit this pandemic. Be assured, also, of my commitment to the inclusivity and safety of all God’s children, great and small, as we raise our voices through music in praise and adoration!
In peace and hope,