*Updated August 10, 2020
Dear Choral Singers,
Greetings from St. Olaf College! We, the choral faculty, know you have many questions about choral singing at St. Olaf this Fall. This letter will give you some essential information so that you have a clearer idea of how we envision choral ensembles operating this semester. Please know that while we want to provide you with an artistically rewarding choral experience in each of our choral ensembles, our highest priority is the health and welfare of each singer and conductor. We have spent these summer months researching and trying to avail ourselves of the best scientific studies available to reach the health guidelines and safety protocols we will be following this semester.
FIRST YEAR STUDENTS:
We are suspending auditions (this year only) for Manitou Singers (SSAA ensemble), Dr. Therees Hibbard, conductor and Viking Chorus (TTBB ensemble), Professor Tesfa Wondemagegnehu, conductor. The conductors of these two ensembles will be reaching out to first year students shortly to give you further instructions.
St. Olaf Choral Convocation
During the two week quarantine, any students interested in choir at St. Olaf and have not been placed in an ensemble, should join us twice a week for an incredible hour-long online music experience. These fun, informative and exploratory sessions will be led by Dr. Anton Armstrong, Prof. James Bobb, Dr. Therees Hibbard, and Prof. Tesfa Wondemagegnehu. These sessions will provide an overview of the ensembles they conduct. Once the quarantine is lifted on Thursday, September 3, live auditions for the St. Olaf Choir, Chapel Choir, Cantorei, and Chamber Singers will take place. Each respective conductor will be sending out further communications regarding the audition process and times once we are into the first week of classes.
RISING JUNIOR AND SENIORS:
As you now have read from the college, students will be quarantined once you arrive on campus until Thursday, September 3. In those first two weeks we ask that you meet with the existing ensembles you were in as of last Spring. Those ensembles will be meeting in some on-line fashion as determined by the respective conductor. Once the quarantine is lifted on Thursday, September 3, live auditions for St. Olaf Choir, St. Olaf Chapel Choir, St. Olaf Cantorei, and St. Olaf Chamber Singers will take place. Each respective conductor will be sending out further communications regarding the audition process and times once we are into the first week of classes. As we begin the semester, we would ask you to hold times in your schedules for the rehearsal periods of the ensemble that you currently are a member, and if needed, the times when a possible new ensemble rehearses, if you plan to audition for a different ensemble than the one in which you presently belong. Conductors of the upper class ensembles will be in touch with the current membership of their respective ensembles in the next week.
FOR ALL SINGERS:
Here are some basic health protocols to achieve risk mitigation that we will be following as we start active singing as of September 3:
•• Singers and conductors will be masked at all times in ALL rehearsals (and possibly also using face shields or goggles).
•• Singers will be 9 feet apart from each other in all rehearsals and performances.
•• There will be no more than 25 singers allowed to rehearse at one time together in a space.
•• We will sing for no more than 30 minutes before there is at least another 30 minutes of non-singing for air exchange of the room of aerosols that might have accumulated. However, please keep open the full regular rehearsal time for other non-singing activities such as score markings, listening to recording of works to be studied, announcements, etc.
•• Hold Sunday, November 1 (all afternoon) for a Festival of Choral Music when all of the St. Olaf choral ensembles will share their music in Skoglund Center and the concert will be streamed.
Again we support the initial 14 day quarantine as a great aid in enabling us to actually safely make music together in person for the rest of the semester. We are working so hard to make it possible for all of us to actually sing together this Fall. Yet, we urgently will need you to do your part in following all of the hygiene and safety protocols that are being asked of all of us. Please expect more direct communication from the conductors of the respective ensembles in the next week.
We look forward to seeing you all very soon and making beautiful music with you!
Anton Armstrong, Conductor, St. Olaf Choir and Collegiate Chorale
James E. Bobb, Conductor, St. Olaf Cantorei
Therees Tkach Hibbard, Conductor, Manitou Singers and St. Olaf Chamber Singers
Tesfa Wondemagegnehu, Conductor, St. Olaf Chapel Choir and Viking Chorus