Under normal circumstances, I would be using my annual report to members to bask in our collective reflected glory on a successful year passed. As it is, we look back in sadness at a year disrupted by a global pandemic. I know some of our members have been ill with the virus and others have had lives and plans disrupted. Our year was interrupted as we were working towards the premiere of Jacques’s Creation, commissioned in memory of our late member Christine Didelot, a passionate and committed choral singer who died of an aggressive cancer in 2017.
Rehearsals were in full swing, but infection rates were rising. We debated whether to proceed with the concert, but worried that audience numbers would be depleted. We naively thought we could postpone the concert to July 2020. Then came lockdown 1.0. There followed a few months of hiatus during which time we made some “virtual choir” recordings for the Lancastria Memorial service and the Annual Service of the Mission to Seafarers. I think most of us who took part found these to be a deeply frustrating experience, although the end results with our individual contributions spliced together did come out well.
Then, in the summer, we commenced our weekly rehearsals over Zoom. These do not suit everyone. Some of you do not have the necessary IT; others simply do not like the format. But it has been gratifying that our weekly attendance has been around 30. Jacques takes us through some physical and vocal exercises and then we sing through some material. We have looked at a wide range of music, more than we could ever do as a live group, ranging from Beethoven’s Missa Solemnis to a cappella Christmas carols. While a poor substitute for the joy of singing together in person, the positive aspects have been a feeling of community and, thanks to many suggestions from members, the chance to explore a wide range of repertoire. So we have plenty of things to work on when we can eventually get back together properly. If our members haven’t tried them, do join us on Mondays if you can.
We were fortunate to squeeze in some covid-compliant in person events between lockdowns. The first was a session for the Mission to Seafarers where a group of us sang a selection of Christmas carols for inclusion in their service, and we also used the time to record a couple of numbers for the Patronal Festival at St Katharine Cree. These came out really well, and I offer my thanks to everyone involved. You can watch the results here.
We also did two rehearsals at St Katharine Cree during December. I found it very emotional to be back in the church after so long and to be singing with others for the first time in months. Being spread out and distant from everyone else presents its challenges, but it was lovely to sing through some Christmas music and we all enjoyed it.
What a year! Of necessity, our plans remain very fluid at present and will be for some time yet. But we remain optimistic that Lloyd’s Choir will emerge from the ashes of 2020. Thank you to everyone for your support through this difficult time, to Jacques, our Committee and Section Leaders, our members and supporters. Let us all look forward to better times.