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Making music again and it’s strangely spiritual

Soprano Katy Knox reflects on the past six months

The lights went down and song was snuffed out – perhaps for a week or two and then we’d pick up were we left off. Nobody was very clear. That concert we had all worked so hard for hovered tantalisingly close but was not to be. Like so many other endeavours, it fell victim to that arbitrary twist of fate that silenced every concert hall in the land. How naïve we all were.

Alex (husband/tenor) and I pounded the park, happy to have it to ourselves in the spring sunshine. We walked the dogs. We enjoyed the garden. We swapped jigsaws with neighbours. We clapped on the doorstep. We lost loved ones and stood apart missing the touch and feel of family, friends and neighbours. We read and watched too much gloomy commentary. We zoomed staring at our own and our friends frozen images –all so strange and all so unimaginable only weeks before. It was to be endured but not to be adjusted to.

Katy with husband, and Choir tenor, Alex.

Singing seemed a very distant prospect. But the Choir was not to be daunted. Our wonderful committee and our indomitable Chairman were determined to keep the show on the road. No furlough for Harry and James. With energy and dogged determination they mastered the “tech” and drew us together each week. A quiz or two to get the ball rolling – choir and Zoom! Then with hours of recorded rehearsal tapes and many sessions conducting a sea of silent faces they produced a June concert. Conventional it wasn’t but serendipitous it most certainly was. The virtual concert isn’t yet a module on The Royal Academy’s Master’s programme but I fancy it soon will be! It was the perfect stopgap. But when all is said and done I remain to be convinced that screeching to myself and the neighbours while staring at my computer screen is any substitute for the real thing. I need the community of my fellow singers and to feel their presence.

As summer wore on and we lost Lichfield (our Cathedral residency) there were signs that restrictions might ease. Rehearsals would resume. Reticent, doubtful, reluctant even, would describe my feelings that first Tuesday. Another set of rules, the dreaded mask, the distancing, the lack of easy chat, no cake, how would it feel and then only a short session? It was awkward but I was comforted to be in church with the loftiness of the space and the sense of community in that place. But it was also strangely spiritual – uplifting to be able to sing and feel the music after so many silent months. The church seemed happy to have us there, to breathe with us.

What a marvellous effort to get us all back making music. Perfect it isn’t but so much better than not at all. Thank you to all of you who have made it happen and who keep it alive each week while we can. How we yearn to return to times ante.

Katy Knox

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