FRANCE : Paris

The Paris Choral Society, conducted by Zach Ullery

Parish Symphony Choir

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” My name is Zach Ullery and I am the Canon for Music at The American Cathedral in Paris and the conductor of The Paris Choral Society.  Our last rehearsal at the Cathedral took place on Thursday, 12 March and the choir sang their last Sunday on Sunday 15, March (livestreamed in an empty cathedral).  The Paris Choral Society held their last rehearsal on Monday, 9 March.  We had a concert of the Dvorak Stabat Mater scheduled for the 26/28 March, but those obviously had to be cancelled.  
In the meantime, the cathedral choir still meets virtually once a week during the regular rehearsal time to simply catch-up, see one another, and have some virtual community time.   A few initial attempts were made at group Zoom singing, but that quickly proved to be impossible (but provided for some great entertainment!).  We are blessed with a great musical team of terrific staff singers, an incredible organist and a very fine organ scholar.  With the music team, we started out live-streaming our services with a minimum of an organist and soloist present.  Since that time, we’ve experimented with duets, trios, and even a quartet (allowing for proper physical distancing, etc. when recording).  After a WiFi issue on Easter Day, we switched to pre-recording all of our services which allows for a bit more quality control on the music and a bit more flexibility with scheduling (for instance, it’s Tuesday and we’ve already recorded the music for Sunday’s service!).   We’ve also taken this time to upload archived recordings of the Cathedral Choir by converting the audio files into movies.  

© The Paris Choral Society

The Paris Choral Society has stayed quite active during confinement, as well.  We meet every Monday evening during our regular rehearsal time for sectional rehearsals via Zoom.  We spend the first 10 minutes greeting one another and having some virtual fellowship.  After that, I mute everyone and spend the rest of the time teaching whatever repertoire we happen to be working on.  At the moment, we’re rehearsing a piece called The Awakening by the American composer Joseph Martin which I found very appropriate for our current situation.  The text speaks of a dream in which the world is void of music.  One of my favorite lines is “and no choir sang to change the world”.   The piece shifts to a joyous ‘awakening’ and the text “Let music never die in me.  For ever let my spirit sing” while the sopranos sing a soaring descant of the “Soli Deo Gloria” text.  The idea is that we rehearse this in confinement and (hopefully) perform it for each other in person one day…a great way to mark the end of this choral isolation.   
The Paris Choral Society has also been working on three different virtual choir videos: Cantique de Jean Racine, Hallelujah Chorus, and the Eja mater from Dvorak Stabat Mater.  
All the best,

© The Paris Choral Society