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Leading Choir Rebrands for The Future and Announces Online Festival of Choral Music

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The Choir's inaugural Festival of Choral Music will take place entirely online.

Leading Choir Rebrands for The Future and Announces Online Festival of Choral Music

In a live statement now watched over 2,000 times, the Founder of The Self-Isolation Choir, Mark Strachan, has unveiled an innovative future vision for the choir, including a new name and the launch of an inaugural Festival of Choral Music.

The Self-Isolation Choir's name pointed heavily to the choir's origin story. Born in March 2020 out of Mark's desire to bring people together to sing during the COVID-19 lockdown, the Choir captured the imagination of singers around the world. Its first ambitious project - to learn and perform Handel's Messiah within 8 weeks - appealed to more than 3,600 international singers and hit the headlines.

Mark's relentless enthusiasm and drive, combined with the expertise and dedication of Musical Director Ben England BEM, was a recipe for success, and the Choir has since attracted 10,000 choristers from around the globe, with a current core membership of over 6,000. The choir has delivered 37 courses to date - with more ongoing and planned - teaching and recording music from Bach to The Beatles, and producing ever more refined and stunning performances all the time.

Donald Palumbo, Chorus Director of The Metropolitan Opera in New York, described the choir's recent 'Messiah 2' performance as "jaw-droppingly accurate, beautiful and expressive", while Nigel Short, Artistic Director of Tenebrae Choir, cautioned that, "professional choirs had better watch out" upon hearing SIC's performance of Allegri's Miserere, and declared himself "gobsmacked" at its most recent concert of Russian Wonders.

It is becoming clear that online choral singing, far from being a pandemic phenomenon, is blossoming into a fully-fledged art-form. In his statement on 16 July about the future of the choir, Mark spoke of how the convenience and value offered by online choirs provide just the right conditions for the growth and increasing adoption of this new way of singing:

"Something is happening and it's more than an alternative to face-to-face choirs during a pandemic. Technology has arrived to change what has been accepted as the norm in choirs for over 300 years. Technology has allowed us to learn more than music. It has allowed us to meet new friends and be with people from all corners of the earth. We are a family. It's the music of course, yet it's so much more than that.

I can really feel a seismic change occurring in the way we are taught and perform choral music.

I believe that face-to-face and online choirs can coexist comfortably, yet there is no doubt that change is on its way, and I feel online choral singing will become the entry point for the next generation of choral singers."

Cognisant that the choir's name rang so heavily of the past, Mark announced its new name: 'SIC - Choir of the Earth'. The "SIC" moniker is retained as an affectionate nod to the choir's origins, while the addition of "Choir of the Earth" fittingly reflects both the choir's global reach and its commitment to environmentally-friendly singing. SIC - Choir of the Earth's eco-friendly endeavours include promoting the use of digital scores, and reducing CO2 emissions by continuing to rehearse and perform online, negating the need to travel.

In line with this environmentally-friendly ethos, Mark also announced the Choir's inaugural Festival of Choral Music, which will take place entirely online. The Festival will celebrate the successes of the choir to date and mark its bright future.

The Festival of Choral Music will take place from 1st - 7th November 2021, featuring a different esteemed course director each day. All have led projects with the Choir before, but will teach Festival-goers works they previously learned under a different director, then conduct an online concert of the pieces. The Festival will also feature discussions with pre-eminent professionals from a range of musical fields, plus a one-off 'Young SIC' session aimed at children (and the young at heart).

Highlights of the Festival's programme include:

Monday 1st November

  • Course Director John Warner will teach and conduct Vivaldi's Gloria, Allegri's Miserere and Fauré's Requiem
  • Mark Strachan in conversation with Nigel Short

Tuesday 2nd November

  • Course Director Ralph Allwood MBE will teach and conduct Messiaen's O Sacrum Convivium, Mahler's 2nd Symphony, and Mendelsohn's Elijah
  • Ben England BEM hosts a Q&A with Bass-Baritone Ashley Riches

Wednesday 3rd November

  • Course Director Harry Bradford will teach and conduct Tallis's Spem in Alium, Grieg's Ave Maris Stella and Rossini's Petite Messe Solennelle
  • Mark Strachan in conversation with Nigel Press of the Thomas Tallis Society

Thursday 4th November

  • Course Director Ellie Slorach will teach and conduct five Opera Choruses, Lotti's Crucifixus and Mozart Requiem
  • Donald Palumbo and Philip Blake Jones in conversation on Opera

Friday 5th November

  • Course Director Nigel Short will teach and conduct How Do You Keep The Music Playing?, Durante's Magnificat and Bach's St John Passion
  • Ben England BEM in conversation with Mezzo-Soprano Helen Charlston

Saturday 6th November

  • Course Director Joanna Forbes L'Estrange will teach and conduct five Russian Wonders, plus choral arrangements of hits by ABBA and The Beatles
  • A special hour-long Young SIC Session with Ben England BEM
  • Mark Strachan in conversation with singers Joanna Forbes L'Estrange and Alexander L'Estrange

Sunday 7th November

  • Course Director Ben England BEM will teach and conduct Beethoven's 9th Symphony, Verdi's Requiem and Patrick Hawes's Quanta Qualia
  • Ben England BEM and Mark Strachan in conversation with composer Patrick Hawes
  • Mark Strachan in conversation with SIC - Choir of the Earth Presidents, Roger Durston and Marina Mahler

Absolutely anybody is welcome to sign up to any part of the Festival. Full details of the Festival's programme and information on how to book is available at: https://www.theselfisolationchoir.com/festival-of-choral-music. The earlier attendees sign up, the more they save, with a significant 56% discount for those who sign up to the whole Festival before 1st August.


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