'Let us sing!' - Choirs and churches demand equality with football fans

Choristers return to Norwich Cathedral, conducted by Master of Music Ashley Grote. Photograph: Norwi

Choristers at Norwich Cathedral, conducted by master of music Ashley Grote. - Credit: Norwich Cathedral/Bill Smith

A musician has appealed for common sense to allow churchgoers, wedding parties, and community choirs to be able to sing again. 

Ashley Grote, Norwich Cathedral's Master of Music, said singers and churchgoers felt frustrated by seeing crowds of people watching Euro football matches shouting and singing loudly.

Choristers return to Norwich Cathedral, conducted by Master of Music Ashley Grote. Picture: Norwich

Norwich Cathedral's master of music Ashley Grote leading choristers in 2020. - Credit: Bill Smith/Norwich Cathedral

He added there was a "lack of logic" from the government in preventing people from singing quietly.

Under Covid restrictions, a group of up to six amateur singers can perform, or rehearse for performance  indoors compared to up to 30 people being able to rehearse outside.

There is no limit on the number of professional singers being able to perform indoors and communal singing should not take place in church services and weddings.

Congregations may join in with singing in groups of up to 30 during outdoor services.

Mr Grote said: "We are at a stage now where, alongside the caution that needs to exist, there needs to be an element of common sense in terms of taking Covid into consideration.

"All the way through the lockdown churches have managed the risk carefully and seriously but there has to be a sense that life needs to go on.

"Not being able to sing at weddings is a big sacrifice and it is hard to see people singing at the tops of their voices on the terraces."

Crowds at The Arena in Sprowston getting ready for the England v Germany Euros match.

Football fans gathering for the England v Germany match in Norwich. - Credit: Danielle Booden

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He added the restrictions were also particularly hard on amateur singing groups. 

Members of St Mary's Church choir in Attleborough pictured before the March 2020 lockdown.

Members of St Mary's Church choir in Attleborough pictured before the March 2020 lockdown. - Credit: Revd Matthew Jackson

The Rev Matthew Jackson, from St Mary's Church in Attleborough, said: "It has been a painful experience. It would be nice to have some recognition of the benefit of music to society. Singing is important."

Rock Choir members from Norfolk pictured in summer 2018.

Rock Choir members from Norfolk pictured in summer 2018. - Credit: Jessica Allen

Jessica Allen, leader of Rock Choir Norwich, Beccles/Lowestoft, Thorpe and Wymondham, said: "When you see football crowds singing it is upsetting but we have to stay safe and get through this."

Stuart Dunlop, director of music at the UEA.

Stuart Dunlop, director of music at the UEA. - Credit: Daniel Clegg/UEA Music Centre

And Stuart Dunlop, director of music at the UEA, which has professionally-led choirs, said: "It feels like a contradiction when you see football fan zones. It is difficult to reconcile that with the strictness for choirs."

The UEA Choir performing at St Andrew's Hall in Norwich before the coronavirus lockdown.

The UEA Choir performing at St Andrew's Hall in Norwich before the coronavirus lockdown. - Credit: Migjia Cheng/UEA Music Centre

He felt it was important groups continued to adapt to allow members to continue practising, which included using technology, and choirs should not rush ahead too quickly if restrictions are dropped on July 19.




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