While students at Concordia speculated the future of classes, athletics and housing as the threat of COVID-19 became increasingly more real, the Concordia Choir faced uncertainties about finishing René Clausen’s final choir tour.
The Concordia Choir tour in the southwest United States went as planned for most of the two-week span, bringing the choir to states like the Carolinas, Florida and Alabama. Their final performance was in Nashville, Tennessee on Friday, March 13, after the cancellations of their final two performances, one in Mahtomedi, Minnesota, and the other a home performance at Concordia, scheduled for March 14 and 15. The decision to cancel the concert at Concordia came with the announcement that the school would move to online instruction starting on March 23.
The Concordia Choir’s performances in the Southwest were attended by large groups of people and the tour brought them through states like Florida and Georgia, which both have multiple reported cases of COVID-19, but Michael Culloton, director of Chapel Choir, believes there is no risk in bringing the choir back to campus.
“I think any fears that they are bringing anything back with them are unfounded and irrational,” he said. “They are as healthy as they have ever been because of the precautions they are taking.”
During their tour, extra measures were taken to minimize the risks of contracting and spreading COVID-19, like using hand sanitizer when getting on and off the buses, and wiping down surfaces using disinfecting wipes.
While the choir was aware of COVID-19 during their tour, the direct impacts were not felt until the middle of the second week, when members of the choir started seeing more about the virus on social media. Lucas Ford and Emily Oliversen, both juniors in the choir, agreed that the cancellations at the end of the tour came as a sudden surprise.
“Tour felt really normal until things on social media started getting canceled, like big events, and then we started getting worried,” said Ford.
“It was like a meme at first, but it started to become real on that Thursday when we were coming back from Birmingham and heading to Nashville,” said Oliversen.
Despite not being able to do their last two concerts, members of the choir were grateful for the opportunities they had to perform.
“We recognize how lucky that we are that we got to do almost our entire tour, and we got to do the thing that we were working towards this semester, whereas other groups didn’t get to do the things that they were looking forward to,” said Mallory Rabehl, a Concordia Choir soprano.
While the Concordia Choir had the opportunity to complete most of their tour, the upcoming Chapel Choir tour was cancelled entirely. The choir was set to sing at churches and high schools in Minnesota and South Dakota starting in Sartell, Minnesota on March 19, and ending with their home concert on March 22.
The cancellation of the tour leaves a lot of reasons to be upset. For some, it was their last chance to go on tour with the ensemble. For everybody in Chapel Choir, the opportunity to showcase the work they had put into the program was taken away.
“People are pretty discouraged I think, since we’ve been working all year,” said Greta Leines, student manager for Chapel Choir.
According to Culloton, there were plans to try to find time when the Concordia Choir and Chapel Choir can perform their tour programs at Concordia before President Craft’s decision yesterday to suspend in-person classes for the rest of the semester. The usual spring Masterworks concert involving all four choirs at Concordia will not happen this year due to the switch to online classes as well.