CANADA : Vancouver

Vancouver Chamber Choir, conducted by Kari Turunen

Professional choir 


All is well here in Vancouver. i hope you are doing well – I know France, and especially Paris, was hit hard by Covid. Let’s hope you got away a little in Strasbourg.
My professional choir cancelled its season from March 16 to the end of the season (our last concert would have been on May 8). We missed the St John Passion and one concert of our own + two smaller appearances in late March / early April. We have only kept in contact with the singers by email after that. We were able to pay the singers for one cancelled concert, but otherwise they have had to fall back on support by the Canadian government (2000 CAD per month for people who have lost work and who make max. 1000 CAD per month otherwise).
The choir has received considerable support from the Canadian government. 75% of regular wages (four full-time employees) are paid for and the government extended the possibility for a substantial loan with 0 interest to businesses. All national and provincial yearly funding was paid earlier than planned to avoid cash flow problems. In addition, there have been / will be one-time grants form both provincial and national arts councils. And the 75% wage-subsidy looks like it will be continued past the end of June. All this means that the organization will survive until New Year, even if everything is upside down until then.

© Wendy D Photography

For the Autumn, we are looking at a continuum of alternatives from fairly normal to same as April 2020 and preparing to act in those circumstances. If we can sing together, we will do so with anything between 8 and 20 singers depending on the guidelines and financial reality. We aim to produce four concerts between September and December. With luck, we can have some audience and in any case the emphasis will be on streaming these concerts. Worst case scenario is that we would have to produce Zoom choir type videos. These would be realized with one singer at a time coming into the same space, so we could have the same technique (microphones / cameras / no dependence on quality of wifis) for every singer.
A professional choir is very different to amateur choirs in this situation. We can be flexible in size and rehearsal process, and on the other hand, everything we do must be about the results, because every single hour costs money. We will also be able to adapt to guidelines about safety, distance and possibly even testing easier than professional choirs. And people will naturally be given the chance to decide whether to work or not, no one will be forces to return to work (in mid-September). 
So, in short: follow the situation and adapt. Be technically prepared to stream concerts during the autumn season of 2020. And pray for a vaccine / treatments / fading away of the virus 🙂
Stay safe “
Kari Turunen

©​ Vancouver Chamber Choir