As spokeswoman Kate Kent explains: “Our Big Idea is to hold an event on November 20 later this year at the New Bury Theatre at Hurstpierpoint College.
“This will be free and priority given to NHS workers. We hope to feature the Brighton NHS Choir, Hurstpierpoint College musicians, Sussex Young Musician winners, Coro Nuovo and some Covent Garden opera singers. Obviously we will decide in September if it goes ahead but we are making preparations for it.”
Kate will be applying for government funding to support the event and will also be looking for sponsorship, but she is confident the event will happen: “It is going to be a concert of remembrance for those that have given a lot of their time in caring during this Covid crisis, and we are also remembering those who have lost members of their families or loved ones and people they know, but it will also be a concert about moving on as well as dedicating and remembering.”
The programme remains to be worked out, but Kate would be anticipating some light classical plus some songs for the shows: “And we are hoping to get some of our Young Musician finalists along. Trying to fit in everything is going to be quite a mission, but we are certainly going to be trying to pack a lot into it. It will be closure – and it will be about moving on as well.”
Kate’s point is that, as things open up again, choirs can’t just return to the programmes they would have offered if the pandemic hadn’t happened. They can’t just pick things up where they left off. Things need to change, Kate feels, and the pandemic has to be acknowledged in the concerts we return to: “If we all just do what we were going to do, I just don’t think we will get an audience. We can’t just forget it. It has got to be spoken about. We have got to change what we are doing.”
This past year has been difficult, inevitably: “A lot of choirs went into hibernation, but we wanted to find a way to carry on. We had no alternative after the first lockdown but to move online.
“It has been a lifeline for many singers particularly those who live on their own or who were shielding. We had to learn music in a different way and actually we see the benefits of Zoom and will continue using it as an opportunity now and again.
“It’s not a substitute for live rehearsals but it’s a great learning tool.”
It’s all part of the new thinking: “With the Big Idea we are thinking more about our concerts in the future and that’s why we are offering free tickets. We hope to be able to continue this idea in the future and fund via sponsorship and donations.
“When we get back, I think we will value so much more what we do. We will treasure it. We have all missed it so much. There is nothing like making music together with others. We have got a couple of weddings coming up in July, two on the same day, and I am saying we can do both, one at 1pm and one at 4pm. And everyone is up for it, saying they are keen to be part the choirs. Usually it would be difficult, people saying it is in July and they can’t commit, but things have changed. No one is going out and everyone is so keen just to get back to making music together.”