Welcome to the abcd Choral Leaders’ Festival 2021, which focuses on reintegration, rebuilding and regeneration. Following the success of last year’s online event, we decided to retain a virtual presence once again this year; which represents our 36th consecutive annual festival.
Last summer, choral musicians were very much in the midst of shock and grief over the suspension (at best) or loss (at worst) of their livelihoods. Little did we know quite how long the disappointment of repeated cancellations would continue. The restrictions placed on an activity that is the very life-blood of our sector seemed unfathomably rigid, at times contradictory and irrefutably complex. But, like other sectors, we have been enterprising through diversification and collaboration, and have proven to be creative, resilient and resourceful when times have seemed bleak.
But now, in light of double vaccinations, lateral flow testing, accessible venues re-opening and helpful risk assessment templates available to all, the choral landscape appears brighter and more positive overall.
This year’s festival has 3 strands, offering a unique and broad choice for all delegates. Featuring topics from vocal warm ups and singing for health, to repertoire sessions and interviews; from performances by Papagena, Gesualdo 6 and Youth Choirs, to our wide-ranging education presentations; from invaluable networking opportunities with publishers and tour operators, to state of the nation seminars. We believe that there is genuinely something for everyone within this year’s festival, and commit to our Equality and Diversity policy with a 50:50 representation of presenters.
abcd is also proud of its ongoing activity, including its successful webinar series, which continues to illuminate a range of diverse choral topics; online training opportunities for international schools and beginner conductors; helpful resources for our members; and the renaissance of its live conductor training once more.
I would like to make special mention of Rachel and Elisabeth, who have worked tirelessly, alongside other choral organisations, and have gone above and beyond their duties on numerous occasions to fight for the viability of our work. Their tenacity, efficiency, patience and clarity have helped so many of us navigate our way through this impossible era and they deserve our profound thanks.
I would also like to thank Chair Leslie East, Membership Secretary Carol Bowns, our committed Trustees and Council, plus the indefatigable John Willetts for his superb technical support.
Above all, I extend my thanks to all the wonderful contributors to the Festival who have enthusiastically agreed to participate and help abcd create what promises to be another stimulating, helpful, supportive and inspiring weekend.