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Delta variant leads to season delay for Southern Oregon Rep Singers

The launch of Southern Oregon Repertory Singers' 2021-22 season has been delayed because of a surge in the delta variant, but hopes are that conditions will allow the group to perform its December holiday show. Courtesy photo.

The delta variant of COVID-19 has put a kink in the plans for Southern Oregon Repertory Singers to launch its first full season since the pandemic hit.

Rep Singers’ October concert has been canceled, and December’s is in jeopardy, officials said.

Executive Director Richard Seidman explained the board’s decision. “Due to the surge of the Delta variant and the particular risk of transmission that singing in a large group presents, the board decided to cancel the October concert,” he said. “We will assess the situation and decide in early October if we feel it is safe enough to start rehearsing for the December holiday concert. If not, we will need to cancel that concert, as well.”

The organization is still waiting for guidance from Southern Oregon University regarding what audience seating capacity the college will allow in the SOU Music Recital Hall.

Due to all the unknowns, the board is holding off making tickets available for purchase and will not sell season tickets in any event.

“Individual tickets will go on sale once we have more clarity,” Seidman said.

When tickets do go on sale, people can order them via its website at repsingers.org or by calling the box office at 541-552-0900.

“People should check our website periodically for updates,” Seidman said.

Music Director Paul French is disappointed, to say the least. One of his biggest frustrations during the pandemic was not being able to make music.

“It was really strange not to be rehearsing and performing,” he said. “I think for many of us, this has been the longest we have ever gone without making music.”

During the pandemic, French continued to teach online, and with time on his hands, conducted a lot of research for the 2021-22 season, which now will be truncated.

“I reviewed all 5,000-plus pieces of music available in the ‘advanced’ category on the main online music publishing site,” French said.

He also perused a number of composer sites, making a special effort to find music by under-represented composers.

“I am so excited to be able to present this music to our community, some of it newly composed,” he said.

French and the board are cautiously optimistic that the New Works Festival in March can go on as scheduled.

“I am thrilled to report that we will be presenting two feature-length choral-orchestral works at the New Works Festival,” French said. “One is by English composer Will Todd, and the other is by Jodi French.”

Rep Singers has been presenting Todd’s music to acclaim for many years. “It is really exciting to be able to present this commissioned major work,” French said.

“Jodi’s music has been enthusiastically received,” he said, “and it is gratifying to afford her the opportunity to write another major work.” She is Rep Singers’ accompanist and French’s wife.

French said he is grateful for the support Rep Singers received during the pandemic.

“Our community really stepped up to the plate and continued to strongly support us, even while we were unable to sing our concerts,” he said. The organization received a number of generous financial gifts, including many from first-time donors.

The pandemic has shaken the performing arts community just as it has everyone else.

“We now know that it is not a given that we get to make music,” French said. “We know even more now how precious these concerts are.”

You can reach Ashland writer Jim Flint at jimflint.ashland@yahoo.com.