BFC was one of the first choirs to venture back to rehearsal

On Monday 14 September, 86 members of the 150 strong Brighton Festival Chorus obediently waited in masks at 2m distances outside All Saints Church in Hove to come together for their first rehearsal since 17 March.

Then, it would have seemed quite ridiculous to be lining up to have your temperature taken, handing in a medical report form and picking up a transparent visor and antiseptic wipes (having sanitised your hands) at the beginning of a choir rehearsal… and that was all before making your way to a marked seat in the echoing spaces of a large Victorian church.

Settling down in our own individual 2m bubble, with strict instructions not to move and only talk to those that were near enough to hear you, there was a distinct shiver of relief and anticipation as James (Morgan, our Music Director) raised his arms for the opening chord of Eric Whitacre’s Sing Gently. Composed during the lockdown for a virtual choir of 17,572 singers from 129 countries it was a perfect piece to reconnect all the singers. The lyrics summed up what we all felt ‘May we sing together; Always; May our voice be soft; May our singing be music for others …’

Ever optimistic about performing a Christmas concert be it live, virtual, recorded, or a mixture of all three, we continued with a new arrangement by Morgan Pochin of In the Bleak Midwinter. James is the Morgan half of the composing duo and, as he said, we have to be creative about responding to the current performance restrictions so the arrangement was for the parts to be sung antiphonally, arranged around an auditorium or church. Odd though it seemed to be singing about midwinter snow on one of the hottest days in September, the whole evening embodied the spirit of everyone in the wider arts community not to be daunted or defeatist and to go forward with conviction and positivity, but all the while wearing masks and with exceptionally clean hands!!