2020-2021 Season Statement – changes due to COVID pandemic

From the Artistic Director and the Board of Directors of the Choral Society of West Georgia:

Singers, friends, and colleagues,

Chorus is community. It’s coming together to become something bigger than yourself. It’s acoustic. It’s blending with your neighbor.
Watching the conductor and being artistically flexible to do what s/he asks you to do. It is a contract that anywhere from four to eighty people make – that they will come together and sing something simply for the beauty of it.

On behalf of the Board of Directors and myself, I hope you are all well and staying safe. Since the sudden cancellation of the choral festival in March, the board of directors has been pro-actively engaged in developing a plan for this upcoming year. Normally at this time I would be announcing our schedule for the upcoming performance season and the beginning of another exciting musical year together. However, this year has proven to be drastically different as we try to successfully maneuver through these unprecedented and unpredictable times.

COVID-19  has not been kind to the performing arts community and it has been especially devastating to choirs worldwide. The physical actions involved with singing, especially in a large group, create the “perfect storm” for this lethal and highly infectious virus to spread with rapid and often devastating consequences.

Sadly, there’s not a lot of choral engagement going on these days. There is no communing. No singing together. No blending. No counterpoint or harmony. No being one with a large body that accomplishes great things.

It is with a truly heavy heart that I must announce that the 2020-21 performance season for our organization has been suspended until further notice. The health, safety and well being of our singers, colleagues, staff and audience members must take absolute priority over everything else. Additionally, the Episcopal Diocese of Atlanta, of which St. Mark’s is a member, has banned all church and community activities for the foreseeable future. This mandate further impacts the availability of our home rehearsal site.

Fortunately, the Board of Directors has been consistently and diligently working to develop a strategy of planning for what can be done under these circumstances, not so much what cannot be done, as that is clearly evident for the long term. The Board and I have designed, approved and adopted the following plan of action for this upcoming season in order to continue to positively engage our singers and supporters. Keeping in mind that things can change, we will move forward with the following offerings:

1.  We Gather Together – A Concert of Praise, Thanksgiving and Remembrance – A Virtual Concert

This will be presented in and around the Thanksgiving season in order to continue the tradition of honoring this most beloved American holiday through the spoken word and music.

The project will be a compilation of past performance recordings, original visuals, reflections and commentary.

It will be organized, developed and produced for public viewing in a collaborative effort with Andrew Harry, LaGrange College technical director Paul Hammock and myself.

2. A Musical Evening with Friends of the Choral Society – A Virtual Concert

A late winter/early spring virtual concert featuring a compilation of outstanding professional musicians/artists from LaGrange/West Georgia area who will be invited to contribute their talents via virtual technology. This will also include past performances from the West Georgia Choral Arts Festivals under the direction of past outstanding area choral conductors. This area has produced remarkable professional artists from Atlanta to New York City working in their selected fields from opera to Broadway. To feature them in performance would further engage audiences and supporters in an innovative and uniquely appropriate virtual musical celebration.

This will be developed and produced in collaboration with Andrew Harry, Paul Hammock and myself.

This concert will be sponsored in part with funding from the 2021 Georgia Council for the Arts Project Grant.

We were recently rewarded this grant and appreciate the GCA support and willingness to adjust and accommodate changing schedules due to COVID –19.

3. John Rutter/Carnegie Hall 2021

This concert is still scheduled for Memorial Day 2021 in Carnegie Hall.

Maestro Rutter has agreed to conduct the entire concert with orchestra which will feature his Requiem, The Deum and Gloria.

If you have interest in participating in this project, singer reservations may still be accepted.

As artistic director, I ask for your support, prayers, understanding, friendship and strength for all involved in the decision making policies regarding our choir’s longevity.

With responsible leadership and with your support, the Choral Society will continue to move forward into the future with its future intact!

Thank you, my dear friends and colleagues,

Bettie Biggs, Artistic Director

The Choral Society of West Georgia Board of Directors
Paula Sharp, President
Brenda Mitchell, Vice President
Jane Hollis, Secretary
Raylene Carter, Treasurer
Rickey Basko, Immediate Past President
Pat Barton
Paula Bradford
Don Eisenbarth
*Pat Graben
Sylvia Hunter
*Robert Kirby
*Wendy Knight
Marcelene New
Kathryn Scholl
Ed Sellers

*New incoming board members