Friday, Jan. 21 and Saturday, Jan. 29, marked the original dates for the Choral Expo and the Wyvern A Cappella Festival (WIAF). However, on Wednesday, Jan. 19, creative arts Department Chair Todd Millen contacted the entire Kingswood Oxford community regarding the postponement of these events due to the rising number of COVID-19 cases throughout Connecticut.
The Choral Expo celebrates all of the various choral groups on campus. From the Upper Prep Choraliers to the select Voce Novissima, these groups gather to sing and showcase their talents. Typically, the Expo occurs at the end of the first semester to celebrate the growth of all the singers.
Choral director David Baker is thrilled for singers to perform at the choral events. Even after their postponements, Mr. Baker thinks the groups will return stronger and more excited to showcase their skills. “While as a vaccinated community we are protected from severe illness, it is still important to consider the health and safety of all related to our community, some of whom may be immunocompromised or not vaccinated,” Mr. Baker said. “Waiting to hold these events until Omicron’s peak has passed gives us the opportunity to refine our music even more and ensure an enjoyable and rewarding performance experience for all of our singers.”
Since COVID-19 has significantly affected the gatherings of choral groups on campus throughout the past two years, both Mr. Baker and choir Director Steven Mitchell are excited for everyone to come together to celebrate the talent of KO singers despite the events’ postponements. “Mr. Mitchell and I went with pieces that we thought would work well with ensembles after a year away from real choral singing,” Mr. Baker said. “We chose a lot of music that we just love, and we think the kids would love, and that I think would be a good re-entry for singing choral music and vocal music.”
Before the postponement, COVID-19 had already left an impact on choral performances. All of the performers are required to wear masks to be spaced three feet away from other performers for an additional layer of protection. These rules have been approved by the American Choral Directors’ Association, considering the fact that the KO community is nearly fully vaccinated. Lastly, the singers are allowed to have only two guests in attendance.
Additionally, alongside the Choral Expo, WIAF has been rescheduled for a later date. The a cappella festival was founded in 2009 by KO music directors Marcos Carreras and Mr. Baker. The festival offers Crimson 7 and the Oxfordians an opportunity to perform and get feedback from judges. WIAF has transformed into New England’s most prominent high school a cappella celebration.
Junior member of Oxfordians Alyssa Temkin is disappointed that the event had to be delayed but fully supports the decision. “I was sad that the event had to be postponed,” she said. “I was looking forward to displaying our various group’s talents in front of the KO community and beyond. But even so, our school needs to remain safe, so this decision was absolutely correct.”
Sophomore Keysy Lopez-Diaz shared similar sentiments. As a Concert Choir and Voce member, Keysy dedicates much of her time to developing her singing skills. “I felt that this event would be a reflection of what I have learned this semester,” she said. “However, despite that, I feel that this decision was well thought out due to the Omicron variant and growth of cases.”
Although these events were ones that the KO community looked forward to, this growing anticipation will enhance the excitement of the singers and their families for the performance. With collaboration from the creative arts department, a date will hopefully be planned very soon. “Our hope is to find an alternate date to have this take place, and we are working with our calendar team to see what any potential options are,” Mr. Millen said in his email to the school. There are plans for WIAF to be rescheduled to March 5, but the department is still awaiting the final decision from other schools. The date for the Choral Expo is yet to be determined.
Both the Choral Expo and WIAF are events that celebrate the talented members of the school community. Offering an opportunity for family members and friends to hear every choral group on campus, singers eagerly wait for these two celebrations to take place each year. Despite the postponement of the events, all choral groups on the KO campus will continue to put in hard work and dedication to make their future performances the best that they can be. The KO choral community and their families will look forward to performing at a later date!