The choirs of the Mountain Empire Children's Choral Academy are taking their rehearsals OUTSIDE this fall in response to the COVID-19 epidemic. The East Tennessee Children’s Choir, Emory Virginia Children’s Choir, and Highlands Youth Ensemble will all be rehearsing in exciting new venues!
“According to numerous medical studies it is not safe to sing inside in the same way we have done in the past,” says Artistic Director, Jane DeLoach Morison. “So we have been looking for ways to continue our choir rehearsals and our educational programming for the young singers in the Mountain Empire. This spring during the initial shutdown we switched to online weekly meetings for singing, instruction, and fellowship. It was very important for us all to SEE each other, and reassure the children in our programs that all of us would continue to be there for each other.”
This fall in addition to weekly virtual offerings, the East Tennessee Children’s Choir will rehearse together in person at The Barn at Boone Falls Reserve. The Emory Virginia Children’s Choir will rehearse at the Southwest Virginia 4H Center. The Highlands Youth Ensemble will rehearse on the front lawn/in the parking lot of a church in Bristol.
“All of these venues offer us a safe, outside place with shelter, if needed,” says Morison. “There is even a petting zoo at The Barn! We are so grateful to our community and local businesses for partnering with us to keep the music going.” The choirs are planning on live streaming and recording rehearsals for children who cannot attend, for whatever reason, so that no one has to be without choir. “There is a need for donors to help with online data and other costs. We so appreciate our donors who are helping to provide what our choirs need to keep making music!”
This spring during the shutdown the singers recorded and released four “virtual choir” offerings that even got the attention of an international festival director. “A choral director in South Africa saw one of our virtual choir offerings online and invited us to participate in an international festival! Our combined East Tennessee and Emory Virginia Children’s Choirs were one of only two US choirs featured in the Virtual Choral Celebration Festival. Kudos to our Student Intern, Natalie Lugo, for her amazing work on our virtual choir recordings. She is not only helping our choirs get recognition, but she is getting attention in the choral world herself!”
Morison says about the coming year, “we have been around a while, and we do not intend to go away! We have had to get creative, but we are looking for silver linings, and are excited about the new possibilities!”
Interested singers still have time to audition for the choirs. For more information on auditions and the season’s offerings, or to find out how to donate to the choirs, go to www.meccacademy.org or contact Morison at firstname.lastname@example.org