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The choir that was created during a pandemic

When we first started planning what was to become the Choral Foundation project, I knew we’d face challenges. But if you’d said that our biggest challenge would be a viral pandemic, one that would alter our way of life in a few short weeks, I probably wouldn’t have believed you.

The St. Peter’s Choral Foundation is an ambitious and exciting project to create a cathedral-like choir in the heart of Bournemouth’s town centre. It builds on 150 years of musical excellence at St. Peter’s, Bournemouth’s superb Grade-I listed parish church. But it goes much further than singing for Sunday services, aiming to take in concerts, recordings, and tours, in addition to a weekly round of choral services that is a living and breathing part of England’s cultural heritage.

A crucial part of this project is recruitment. We need to find the right singers to launch the choir. In particular, getting the word out to the musical boys and girls who would carry the top line of music was vital. But how could we do this, when school assemblies were out-of-bounds, social gatherings were forbidden, and the very act of singing was seen (wrongly) as high-risk? Our original plan – to publicise and recruit during the spring and summer of 2021 – was thrown into disarray as the pandemic continued to affect everyone’s lives.

Social restrictions meant that children in particular were missing out on enjoying singing and other musical activities. Delaying the project launch would mean denying potential choristers the opportunity to get involved in something new and exciting, and take a step back towards normality.

So we’ve gone ahead with our plan to launch the project and its choirs in September this year. Through the autumn we will recruit and build up the choirs with the musical highlight of Christmas on the horizon. This opens up a wonderful opportunity for children in Bournemouth and Poole to make new friends and gain exciting experiences while singing some of the best music ever written.

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