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‘Very worried’: Winnipeg choirs forced to remain silent amid pandemic

Article by Mason DePatie, CTV News Published Sunday, May 31, 2020 5:07PM CST

WINNIPEG — Dozens of tuxedo-clad men and women wearing gowns line the risers. With a flick of the conductor’s wrist, a wave of sound envelopes the packed concert hall.

Describing a typical show for the Winnipeg Philharmonic Choir, it’s an experience that won’t happen again for a while.

COVID-19 has forced choirs across the world to disband and file away their sheet music.


“For now, our choir is just on hold,” said Judy Asker, executive director of the Winnipeg Philharmonic Choir.

The choir had to cancel its two spring concerts, a common occurrence in the music world right now.

According to the National COVID-19 Impact Survey for Choirs in April, over 300 events were cancelled, and over 2,000 postponed. In total, 211 Manitoba choirs responded to the survey.

Overall, the total estimated and actual financial impact on these choirs is over $850,000 in lost revenues and incurred costs associated with the pandemic.

“Because choirs themselves are inherently social gatherings of several or more people, every choir across the country had to cease operations immediately, and in order to connect with its choristers and its patrons, has had to adapt to a new normal that exists almost entirely online,” said Jenny Steinke-Magnus, the executive director of the Manitoba Choral Association.

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