With live concerts - the primary thing we do – on hold since March 2020, Schola Cantorum went to work in August rehearsing and recording, at first outdoors, then at an indoor venue with a remarkable combination of Covid-era environmental features and good acoustics. Barry Torres describes both aspects, and Schola’s Covid-aware rehearsal protocol, in his comments below. Schola is most grateful to the Anglican Church of St. Mary the Virgin in Liverpool, New York, for making their lovely church available to us.
The first video to be available - our Christmas gift to our audience - is Three Christmas Motets of Orlando di Lasso. It was audio-recorded on December 13 and fitted with a graphic slide show. You can watch and listen at Schola's YouTube channel.
The written program to accompany that video - with texts, translations, comments and credits, produced with her customary flair and care by Debbie Breese-Garelick - appears here, on this web site.
Available in January 2021, also on our YouTube channel, will be a video recorded earlier, on October 24: A Sampler of Chansons, and Related Sacred Music.
We were very pleased (and we hope you were too) that on December 12, WCNY radio broadcast Schola’s Christmas concert from a year ago, Navidad, on The Concert Hall program, hosted by Bruce Paulsen.
Comments on COVID
What follow are Barry’s comments on Covid precautions. (His notes on the Di Lasso Christmas motets are part of the program that appears here on this website.)
“Like every other performing arts organization in the world, we suspended our in-person activities in March 2020. While public concerts are still not viable now (as of December 2020) - although there is light now at the end of the tunnel - the singers of Schola started rehearsing in person under controlled circumstances in late August, with the goal of producing half-hour-long music videos. After a few outdoor rehearsals that were moderately successful, we came indoors (it was getting colder) to a venue with unusually good ventilation, the Anglican Church of St. Mary the Virgin, in Liverpool.
“With front and rear doors wide open, a constant breeze flows through the sanctuary. Singing in the round, spaced 6 feet apart, we comfortably fill the space. The friendly acoustics of the dark wood interior allow us to hear each other well and develop a cohesive sound. Using recommended protocols from recent studies on safe performance practice (singing in 25-minute spans, then vacating the space for 10 minutes to allow complete air exchange with fans helping the flow, and so forth) we have been able to rehearse regularly.
"Our first video (to be made available in January) was of repertoire we were to have sung in our June 2020 concert, “Chantons Chansons.” On December 13 we audio recorded our Christmas gift to you, the program of three Christmas motets by the incomparable Orlando di Lasso.”