After the 2019-20 season was cut short by the first lockdown, with the choir’s 175th anniversary concert cancelled and existing plans for the following year shelved, focus turned to getting the choir safely singing again. In October 2020, socially distanced rehearsals in small groups enabled many in the choir to return to the Cathedral to sing with the organ and each other at least once, before restrictions tightened once again. That Christmas, choirs of just 30 singers performed two live-streamed sessions of carols for an online but global audience, in place of Carols for All, a popular free concert traditionally held on Boxing Day in support of a local charity.
The new year saw weekly ‘Zoom’ rehearsals, before venturing outdoors in Spring to deliver a live performance to the public for the first time in more than a year. Outline plans for the 2021-22 season had been made before “covid” had entered the daily lexicon, but returning to whatever “normal” was would be risky. Aside from the well-publicised risk of virus transmission while singing being a natural concern for many members in the choir, GCS would require sufficiently large audiences to make concerts financially viable. It’s an all-too common issue in the amateur and semi-professional music scene, even without the backdrop of a tenacious pandemic.
The GCS trustees, together with Musical Director, Adrian Partington, programmed a series of chorus-focused concerts to allow the choir to do what it does best once again. Audience numbers were certainly lower than in previous years, with infections and understandable hesitancy playing their part, particularly in the run-up to Christmas. With a combination of considerable planning, adapting to feedback from our members and audience, and the continued easing of restrictions, GCS delivered a wonderful season of concerts and even welcomed members of the public to sing Verdi’s Requiem with the choir, at its first ‘Sing Saturday’ in two years.
With this in mind, GCS is delighted to be announcing its 2022-2023 season, jam-packed with stunning music for chorus and orchestra and a series of ‘come and sing’ events for all singers to enjoy. Three years overdue, the choir will finally celebrate its 175th anniversary as planned with a feast of music by famous Gloucestershire composers.
Perhaps one of the most important announcements in this upcoming season of music for all is the offer for young people and the future generations of choral singers: anyone under 25 years old and all students will have access to any seat at any GCS concert for just £5. This is a significant simplification and expansion beyond any previous offer to younger members of the audience. With more young people able to experience the power of a full choir and orchestra in the historic surroundings of Gloucester Cathedral, there’s every chance of A Sea Symphony reverberating around the cloisters on a Saturday night in another 175 years’ time.