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A message from Tom Brand regarding plans for the remainder of the 2019-2020 season:

March 27, 2020

Dear choristers, family members, and friends of UGC and ECGC,

Throughout history, humanity has been tested in countless ways. Our predecessors have overcome unimaginable obstacles by collaborating creatively, selflessly, and compassionately during periods of peril and instability. Society is facing tremendous uncertainty right now, but we humans are a highly adaptive and resilient species, and I have every faith that we will weather this storm together, and that the clouds of fear and anxiety that loom over us today will eventually clear away.

The power of harmony and sisterhood are needed in our community now more than ever, and we at United Choir School are here, as we have been for the past 28 years, to support, nurture, and affirm one another, to offer comfort and hope in times of need, to learn, teach, sing, and grow together, and to challenge each other to be the very best musicians, leaders, and human beings that we can be. Although the world is changing, our mission is not. We will remain true to that mission and will continue to do everything we possibly can to provide a safe, healthy, loving, and empowering environment in which our choristers can develop their talent and realize their potential.

It has become clear that we have no choice but to cancel all upcoming UCS rehearsals, performances, and tours until further notice. It is impossible to predict when we will be able to resume such activities, but we must prepare for the very real possibility that it may not be until sometime after our 2019-2020 season has ended. Although this is deeply disappointing, it also presents an opportunity for us to collaborate, innovate, and unite as a community in ways that we have never done before. Our staff and student leaders are currently in the process of developing a robust and exciting plan that will make it possible for our choirs to transition to an online learning model starting on March 30. If circumstances permit us to resume holding live rehearsals and/or performances sometime later this semester, we will, of course, do so. But if that ends up not being the case, we will still have a way of completing the current semester within the parameters of our new reality. We will also do whatever we can to make up for the two weeks in March that we have missed, including providing musical opportunities during our previously-scheduled week-long breaks in April and May.

Through the use of Zoom and other technology tools, we will offer a wide range of choral education activities that will enable our choristers to learn, grow, share their gifts, and make joyful music together as “cloud-based sisters-in-song”. Activities may include vocal coaching for individuals and small groups, mentor-led and/or self-guided courses in music history, theory, ear training, sight-singing, conducting, composition, music production, keyboard skills, and improvisation, as well as various collaborative recording and virtual performance projects. There will also be opportunities for strengthening social bonds and reaching out to others in our community for whom our musical offerings may be especially meaningful during this time of isolation. If, at the end of the season, it proves impossible for us to gather physically, we will figure out a way of assembling virtually to acknowledge our choristers’ individual and collective accomplishments and to celebrate the remarkable achievements of our beloved graduating seniors. This spring season will certainly be different, but it will be rewarding and meaningful nonetheless.

“Don’t Stop Believing!” We will remain “United in Song” even from a distance, and before long, we will all be “Side by Side” once again.

We will be in touch with all UCS families soon with additional information and detailed instructions for accessing our new online learning community. In the meantime, thank you for your patience, understanding, and continued support. We care about all of you and hope that you are safe and well.

Love is the answer. We’ll get through this!

In peace,

Tom

P.S. Many of you know my dear friend, Michael Brown, an immensely gifted singer/songwriter who has led several gospel music workshops for UCS and the Saecula Choir Foundation in recent years. If you’re looking for an inspiring message of hope, check out this video of Michael’s latest original song, “We’ll get through this”:

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