After adjusting to a virtual choir for the Fall 2020 and Spring 2021 semesters, the Tennessee Tech Choral and Concert Choir will be returning to a limited in-person performance. Fall Concerts will be held in Wattenbarger Auditorium on October 26 and 28 at 7:30 p.m.
CDC recommendations prevented groups of 50 people or more from meeting, creating a challenge for many on-campus groups. This especially impacted large music groups, Including both of Tech’s vocal performance groups, Tennessee Tech Chorale and Concert Choir.
Combined class sizes are typically 100 students prior to covid; currently, class sizes have dropped to about 75 students.
Director of Choral Activities Dr. Craig Zamer, who instructs both ensembles, split classes into halves for a rotating attendance schedule to ensure full class time, social distancing, and that safety measures were taken.
The challenge with socially distancing a choir is that singers need to hear the sounds around them. Sound is distorted behind an ordinary face mask because of the way they fit on one’s face- causing the mask to sit on top of the lips. Zamer found special masks designed specifically for singers that allowed better quality sound to project. These masks are designed with spacers so that the mask is lifted away from the face and off of the lips, while still covering the face to prevent spreading any virus particles to others.
While these masks certainly helped, it did not change the need for social distancing. This is why both choirs were forced to step off the stage and rearrange so that there is space between all singers, which took up a majority of space in the Wattenbarger Auditorium, where they rehearse.
During the warmer days during the semester, the groups often met for an outdoor rehearsal under the tent on Walton Park, across the street from Bryan Fine Arts.
But as restrictions and protocol have changed, the choirs are allowed to step back on the stage. Mary Nix, a secondary education major, is a member of the Chorale and explains that while she would still continue to sing in the group with tighter restrictions, she certainly prefers being back on stage as a whole group.
“We hear better. We’re connected and feed off each other’s energy. We need that to do well in a group,” Nix said.
Nix also mentions that since returning to the stage this semester, the overall attitude of the choir has lifted significantly.
“The whole class is much more motivated. It makes the class much more enjoyable,” Nix said.
This month will be the first time singers have taken the stage for an in-person concert performance since the Spring 2020 semester. The choirs will perform on stage again with a limited in-person audience on Oct. 26 and 28.
To ensure social distancing in the audience, tickets will be required for the performance. Tickets can be acquired from a choir member or can be picked up the day of the concert. These tickets are free of charge and are only being used as place holders for audience numbers. There are two performances on the varying days so that audience members can attend the other day if seating is filled and becomes closed.
Both performances of the choirs are also livestreamed if audience members are unable to attend in person. The livestream link can be found under the concerts and events tab on the School of Music website.
In addition to the two upcoming concerts, both choirs will be performing their annual Candlelight Christmas concerts on Dec. 3 and 4.
The upcoming concert titled, “Heaven and Earth Be One,” will include compositions such as: “On The Day We Are Together Again,” “I’ll Be On My Way,” “Earth Song” and more.
For more information, visit the Department of Music’s website, or contact Director of Choral Activities and Music Instructor Dr. Craig Zamer at firstname.lastname@example.org.