Earlier this week I spoke with Dr. Kiera Galway about the return of Elliott Chorale, an ensemble that was on hold last year because of COVID-19 restrictions. Elliott Chorale is Mt. A’s auditioned choral chamber ensemble. The choir is usually composed of 18–20 singers of all voice types and typically sings fairly difficult choral repertoire, Dr. Galway told me. The choir is much more than that, though. Not only are singers challenged by learning a myriad of pieces from different eras and languages, they also learn some music that is meant to be performed in an entirely different way than the traditional, polyphonic choral piece. Included is the aleatoric piece “Jerusalem” by Michael McGlynn, which will be a part of the Elliott repertoire this year.
Dr. Galway has spent plenty of time over the summer preparing for Elliott’s return by “listening, researching new compositions, and looking at other ensembles’ choral programs to create an interesting, engaging season for the singers and audience members” while also carefully following research on safe singing practices. Last year, the Mount Allison Choral Society was the only university choral ensemble running, and due to constantly changing COVID-19 restrictions, the group sometimes rehearsed online rather than in-person. They exclusively recorded their performances to be uploaded online because performing live for an audience was out of the question. “I think every ensemble director is a little concerned about the direction COVID will take, and implications for in-person music-making. That said, I feel optimistic and happy to be singing together this fall!” Dr. Galway said. The goal of any ensemble is always to perform to the best of their ability, but more importantly this year, everyone hopes to be able to continue to make music together in person while staying safe and healthy.
Elliott Chorale has a few concerts scheduled this term, and plenty of music to learn. Elliott will be performing solo for a winter concert on November 28 and will be featured along with the Symphonic Band for the Pops Concert on October 15. Elliott will also be joining the Chorale Society for a couple of seasonal concerts on October 31, and December 5. As a member of the Elliott Chorale myself, I am super excited for the Halloween concert. No spoilers, but we will be performing some amazing music, including “La Muerte Sonriente” that will really knock people’s socks off. “I’m really looking forward to our October 31st concert,” Dr. Galway said, “the theme is Halloween and Day of the Dead, which is a little out of the ordinary for me. I can’t wait for the whole concert to come together.”
Despite the uncertainty of what music making is allowed to look like these days, under the direction of Dr. Galway the Elliott Chorale is back and not only surviving, but thriving; you won’t want to miss any of their upcoming performances!