Nearly a year on from the start of the first lockdown, while the UK Covid Vaccination programme is now up-and-running, at last bringing some hope that life, indeed, might ‘return to normal’ sometime in the future, there’s no denying that the ongoing global pandemic affects every single one of us probably in a multitude of different ways, and with no clearly-defined cut-off point to which to look forward.
Everything from our economy to our sanity has been compromised, while some parts of community life have been hit harder than others. Music-making, in virtually every form, has been decimated, and stalwart efforts to move things online have made a slight difference, but, at the end of the day, singing to a bank of video cameras in an empty venue, can’t really cut it, in terms of re-creating that vital sense of performance you get by actually being there in the flesh.
But when you hear that a large choir has actually increased its membership, despite having had to cancel four big events, there might be a message there for us all to learn. Let Plymouth Philharmonic Press Officer, Mary Johnson, tell you all about it in her own words. Mary writes:
‘When watching TV programmes produced in the pre-Covid 19 era do you do a double-take and wonder why the actors are taking such risks, standing so close to each other without wearing masks? It’s just beginning to dawn on me that we still have all of this, but in reverse, to look forward to in 2021!
“What else, then, is there to look forward to? Is your diary decidedly empty and did you even give New Year resolutions a second thought? With the roll out of the largest vaccination programme in the history of mankind, it’s time to dare to think about picking up our lives.
Joy of small things
“The question is, do we want to ‘pick up’ from where we left things in March 2020? In the race to be able to shop till we drop, to meet friends in one another’s homes and ‘party like it’s 1999’, will we forget the joy we found in the small things that previously we were too busy to notice, those things that got us through the dark times of 2020?
“We’ve been challenged, to say the least, but we’ve learned new skills and have adapted. We have become adept at internet shopping, Zoom meetings and figuring out our children’s or grandchildren’s Maths school work! Maybe the question is, what will we now choose to learn for our own enjoyment and fulfilment and to boost our health and mental well-being?
“With not a note sung in any of the four planned performances in Plymouth Philharmonic Choir’s 50th Anniversary Year, how is it that they have recruited new members in recent months?
Small acts of kindness
“Small acts of kindness have kept spirits buoyant and further strengthened the bonds of support and camaraderie. Projects such as a Desert Island Discs series, a recording of a new version of The Twelve Days of Christmas and an online Carol Concert have enabled members to share their love of music. Whilst they don’t yet know when or what they will be singing, the choir is nonetheless excited about the prospect of performing beautiful music with the exhilaration and sense of achievement that comes from this.
Join the joyous 51st Year celebrations
“So, to be part of their even more joyous 51st Year celebrations, why not consider joining the choir? For further details, please contact Membership Secretary Pat Brodie – 01752 330337 / firstname.lastname@example.org – or just pop along to the choir’s website).”
Howard Perks’s vivid photo above was taken in Plymouth Guildhall, in April 2019, where Christopher Fletcher conducted a performance of Bach’s St Matthew Passion, featuring internationally-acclaimed English tenor, Neil Jenkins.
Who would have known that such a successful event, which brought immense pleasure, satisfaction, and enjoyment to so many people, would be a non-starter in less than a year and perhaps for some time yet to come?
Meanwhile, we’ll leave the final words to the Romans: ‘Dum spiro, spero’.