During the 2020-2021 season the Rogue Valley Chorale Association remained unable to rehearse together or perform in theaters due to the Covid-19 pandemic. So Artistic Director Michael Morris remained vigilant in finding new and creative ways to provide our community with access to choral music.
Holiday Faire, filmed and recorded during the summer of 2020, enabled singers to perform together safely and our community to enjoy the performance during its televised performance. The Rogue Valley Chorale, Youth Ensemble, Cantare Chorus, Rogue Valley Chorale Chamber Orchestra and Jefferson Baroque Orchestra join forces to produce a unique concert that aired on Southern Oregon PBS during the 2020 holiday season. Exceptional soloists and small ensembles, as well as the entire Chorale were featured in the televised production filmed at iconic Rogue Valley locations in the midst of the Corona Virus Pandemic. The Chorale singers performed a variety of holiday pieces while wearing face coverings and practicing social distancing. The end result is a fabulous demonstration of artistry and resilience during an unprecedented time in the history of the world.
Sponsors and funders included James Morrison Collier, Southern Oregon Subaru, Geri Shimabukuro, Allen Cagle, Reed and Carolee Walker Fund, Oregon Community Foundation, Carpenter Foundation, Oregon Cultural Trust, Oregon arts Commission and Templeton Foundation.
The Chorale Association produced a CD of the Holiday Faire performance that also included a few songs from our Home for the Holidays performance at the Collier Center in December of 2019.To download the CD booklet insert click here.
2020 was truly a difficult time for the Chorale Association, not only because of Covid-19, but also because of devastating fires that ravished Southern Oregon. Parts of Ashland, Talent and Phoenix were completely destroyed, as were other areas in the Rogue Valley. The families of several Chorale and Youth Choruses singers lost their homes, as did other musician friends in the area. And if Covid and the fires weren’t enough, we lost several beloved singers. Early in 2020 we lost Kathleen Thorsen. Robert Larson, Don Dolan, Barbara Johnson, Don Bolles, Nina Frost, Nancy Yie, and Connie Fisher-Crooks all passed on during the 2020-2021 season.
The following is a poem written in memory of Bob Larson:
In Memoriam Rev. Robert Larson
A flood of grief and disbelief.
Shock. Pain. Memories.
Echoes of the voice I will never
hear again this side of heaven:
the genuine greeting, warm,
twinkling eye contact, infectious smile:
“Good to see you. It’s so good to see you,”
he’d always say. So, clearly I hear his voice.And it was always indescribably good
to see you, too, Bob. A treasure
especially now that I can no longer.
The warm welcome back handshake;
after a summer or a season of being away.
The way he’d squeeze my knee
when the basses paused, and again he’d say
“Hey, it’s so good to see you!”
That bass always buoyant with energy,
singing as we returned chairs to leave,
his favorite phrase from a song we’d just sung.
Gracious. Warm. Genuine.
I could see how social distancing
would break the heart of one who thrived
on social closeness. We never know why
the Lord chooses when He chooses
to call such a dear one home.
Treat your friends kindly.
Tell them you love them,
as Bob Larson always told me.
You never know when
the last time you see them will be.
And you find yourself weeping,
“If only I could see him again…”
In Loving Memory,
with prayers for all his family,
Peter E. Yeager
In January of 2021 Retiring Executive Director Laura Rich handed the reigns to incoming Executive Director Brad Nelson. Laura has a long history in the performing arts and in arts management. She relocated to Southern Oregon and joined the Chorale in 2007. She became a board member in 2008 and was officially hired as Executive Director in 2016.
Brad Nelson also has had a career in the performing arts spanning two decades. His skills as a problem solver and his creativity will serve to strengthen the organization and will carry it forward to its next level of growth.