They may not be able to rehearse in person but a Swansea University student has found a way for his choir to keep performing during the coronavirus outbreak.
Aaron Brown, who is studying for a PhD in Physical Geography, has encouraged members of the Morriston Orpheus Choir to use the conferencing app Zoom every Sunday.
It means members, aged 22 to 88, are able to continue rehearsing and socialising despite being in isolation.
Morriston Orpheus Choir undertakes performances on television, at national and promotional events, weddings and provides corporate and after-dinner entertainment. This year, they are celebrating the choir’s 85th birthday but have had to cancel or postpone a number of performances due to the pandemic.
Aaron remarks, “It’s a such a shame that we have had to cancel performances but it’s still great to keep practising with a choir the size and quality of the Morriston Orpheus. They are a superb group.”
Aaron further says that rehearsing online is a great way not only to keep the members practising but also enjoy each other’s company:
“We’re a large social group, like an extended family. It’s a big change for everyone to go from meeting up for a sing and a chat to not seeing anyone at all. Over half of our members are over 70, and are having to self-isolate. Therefore, they have stopped almost all socialising. Practising via Zoom helps everyone socialise and gives a sense of normality during the lockdown.”
The setting makes a change from the lecture theatre at Swansea University the choir usually gathers at twice a week. Despite some technical struggles at first, the new, digital method of practice is proving to be quite popular.
Aaron commented, “Some members needed to be talked through joining Zoom, but the software is very user friendly, and those without computers can join by tablet, smartphone, and even dial in via landline. We had 59 members join in recently, which is brilliant!”
Rehearsals might not be the same during the current lockdown but the spirits of the choir remain high.
“Thanks to our virtual practice, we will be able to hit the ground running when we are all back practising at Swansea University. I have no doubt that we will come back bigger and better than ever,” Aaron added.