A choir’s journey back to live performance
by Kathleen Engles for Vocal Area Network
Posted September 18, 2020

Deborah Simpkin King leading EmberFor the first time since the pandemic began, the Ember ensemble of Schola Cantorum on Hudson will perform live in an outdoor concert. The event will take place on Saturday, September 26 on the beautiful grounds of Boscobel House and Gardens at 1601 Route 9D, Garrison, New York 10524. The 45-minute choral concert, titled “Unfolding,” will have two performances: 4:30 PM and 6:00 PM. Ember’s Artistic Director and Conductor, Deborah Simpkin King, will lead the choir in song.

The concert strictly adheres to the COVID-19 safety protocols issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) including the wearing of masks at all times, social distancing of at least 6 feet and COVID-safe hygiene. “The health and safety of the audience and singers is our top priority,” says Dr. King. “In addition to following the CDC guidelines, each of the Ember singers and the conductor will wear an extra protective singer’s mask that provides a level of filtration against aerosol transmission that goes beyond what is currently recommended.” (Click here for details about the singers’ masking.)

According to Dr. King, the decision to return to live performance came after months of research and discussions via Zoom meetings with Ember singers and the organization’s leadership about the progress of aerosol testing on singing activity. “All of us longed for the time when we could make 'actual' music together again but no one wanted to return to live performance prematurely—without  documented evidence of what provides a safe and healthy experience for audiences and singers alike.” says King. A study released in August 2020--International Coalition of Performing Arts Aerosol Study Round 2—was particularly helpful in providing the most up-to-date safety recommendations that helped to inform Ember’s return to live concerts.

With “Unfolding,” Ember once again lives joyfully into their mission of deepening and enlivening the human journey through song with a program of their best received selections. It includes such favorites as Unclouded Day arranged by Shawn Kirchner; Fred Rogers’ It’s a Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, arranged by J. David Moore; I Dream a World (after Langston Hughes) by Dwight Bigler; and A Million Dreams from The Greatest Showman.

Tickets are $26 for adults; $16 for children ages 5-18; free of charge for children under 5. To purchase and for more information, go to emberensemble.org/events.html. Audience size is limited to comply with COVID-19 safety guidelines, so a limited number of tickets are available. The performance will begin once the gates have been closed for the event.

Ember is the performing ensemble of Schola Cantorum on Hudson, founded in 1995 by Deborah Simpkin King as an independent nonprofit organization. Ember performs its entire concert season in Manhattan and in northern New Jersey. Its unique programming features new music (largely by living composers) with a socially pertinent message. The internationally recognized new music initiative, PROJECT: ENCORE ™, was founded through Schola and the organization supports multi-pronged education and engagement programs in addition to its performing activities. Ember draws singers from eleven counties throughout New York and New Jersey. Schola is supported by the New Jersey State Council on the Arts, the Marjorie Bunnell Foundation and many other generous individuals, foundations and business partners.

Kathleen Engles is a communications professional and freelance writer.