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MSU benefit concert called off due to coronavirus

Submitted Photo Minot State University’s chorus is pictured on tour last spring in a photo taken by Josh Strong.

The ongoing coronavirus pandemic has meant a year of stops and starts and hard work only to be frustrated when an event has to be canceled.

A virtual concert that had been planned for Nov. 22 to benefit the Minot Domestic Violence Crisis Center is just the latest event that has had to be canceled, said director Emerson Eads.

“It is with a heavy heart that I feel we must cancel our concert, Music of Comfort,” said Eads in an email. “When we began this Fall Semester we were under no illusions that it would be like any other year. The local community came together in order to aid our singing. Chelce Detert with Creative Designs designed our special singing masks and we moved our rehearsals into the Wellness Center (with many thanks to Paul Brekke & Courtenay Brekhus) where air exchange was best. We distanced ourselves past CDC guidelines, and past guidelines that were suggested by a UC Boulder Study made up of experts in the fields of singing, band, and of course scientists. We sang despite not being able to hear each other well. The students were champions despite not having a choral experience that anyone signed up for. We learned challenging repertoire, Vivaldi’s Credo in E minor, Haydn’s St. Nicolai Mass, Vaughan Williams’ O Taste & See. The students chose a non-profit, Minot’s Domestic Violence Crisis Center as the organization they wished to benefit with our music. They procured art and video selections that would be interpolated into our musical offerings to further augment the Center’s mission while depicting the musical messages within our repertoire.

“This work takes a lot of creative energy, and we were so grateful to Victoria Conner for her help in this collaboration. Joanna Miller was instrumental in organizing this, and to her and the student committee, I’m very grateful! We had planned addresses from President Shirley from our University, and our Mayor, Shaun Sipma, that would be streamed along with our concert to show unanimity of support to all those who needed comfort during this time while domestic violence has been on the rise due to the pandemic.

“Alas, due to the precipitous rise of cases, I feel like this concert of comfort would be out of step with the comfort of our own singers and their families. I did not cancel this concert lightly. The work of the students who persevered during this challenging time to sing, and the importance of the message and mission of the Domestic Violence Crisis Center, were compelling reasons to continue during this harrowing time. But now, we await a better time to lift our voices in song. We won’t be kept silent for long, we will still sing, in smaller groups, and with more care than ever.But still we must do what is right for each other and for our community. Thus, we must cancel our planned concert.I want to thank you everyone involved, especially the students for their work, for their voices, and perseverance during this time. We long to lift our voices in song unfettered, and sing for the causes that unite us; and that time will come.”

Student Joanna Miller also expressed disappointment.

“For a voice major, who cannot go one day without singing, this is a devastating,” said Miller in an email. “I know that may sound dramatic, but we have been working very hard – not only in rehearsals, but in sectionals and coordinating everything to come together. The music we were singing is incredibly challenging and we learned it in difficult circumstances. We’ve had to make a lot of modifications to make sure we were doing things safely, but we did it because we are told this is best practice right now.

“I’m honestly tired of being told it’s so dangerous to sing. It’s hard to take that as gospel truth right now, but the understanding is there. There is wisdom in being cautious. No one wanted this concert to go on more than I did, than I do. The cancellation has a feeling of finality that has made me very sad.”

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