Crawley choir's plans to resume group sessions hit with fresh blow

A choral choir in Crawley has suffered a fresh blow in its plans to resume face-to-face sessions.

Friday, 28th May 2021, 11:06 am
Updated Friday, 28th May 2021, 11:08 am

The Phoenix Choir of Crawley had found a new rehearsal venue at Friary Hall, and had tentatively hoped that group practice could recommence on Thursday, May 20 after more than a year of online sessions on Zoom.

But the group’s well-laid plans were scuppered when the latest instructions from the Department for Digital, Culture Media & Sport (DCMS) stated that no more than six people were allowed to gather indoors.

This meant that the choir, along with all amateur choirs, were still unable to meet and prepare for performances.

The Phoenix Choir of Crawley, pictured performing in 2018, have been unable to resume face-to-face sessions. Picture courtesy of Angela Finn

The Phoenix Choir of Crawley have been unable to meet up to practice, let alone perform, since March of last year.

Chris Ollis, who has been a member of the choir since its inception and sings as a first alto, said: “The Phoenix Choir of Crawley had hoped to be able to resume actual, although limited, rehearsals until the latest DCMS instructions were announced.

“A suitable venue had been booked that would, if spacing was observed, allow half of the members to attend rehearsals.

“Twenty-six singers, suitably masked and spaced, could have met for actual singing, but this is still not allowed.

“Only six persons are currently allowed to meet to sing in an indoor environment under the government's latest instructions, which means that all amateur singing groups are still banned from meeting to prepare a performance.

“Any plans for a concert have had to be put on the back burner.”

Chris stressed that the arts and people’s mental wellbeing has been adversely affected by the DCMS’ ruling.

She added: “I feel the arts have been ignored in the recovery plans, and the chance for helping people's mental health has been sidelined.

“Singing has been proven to be excellent for one's mental health and for a choir to survive and continue to be an important part of its members life, regular face to face meetings are essential.

“I hope that many of our members will let our local MP know how disappointed they are with the latest DCMS ruling.

“We do not engage in dangerous activity. Instead we are indulging in a healthy and enjoyable pastime.”

The Phoenix Choir of Crawley will continue to practice on Zoom, but this has thrown up more issues for the singers.

Chris said: “Phoenix will have to use Zoom again, which is very useful socially, but not a lot of use when you are trying to prepare work for public performance.

“The music director cannot tell if you are singing properly if you are muted on Zoom, and the singers are unable to produce a properly blended sound if they cannot hear each other's voices.”