Until We Gather Again
by Alice Chance
Musicians of the St. Louis Symphony Chorus and IN UNISON Chorus
The next installment of the St. Louis Symphony: Live at the Pulitzer series features musicians from the SLSO’s two resident choruses—the IN UNISON Chorus and the Symphony Chorus—as well as composer Alice Chance’s animated illustrations.
The global pandemic has caused many people to be confined to their homes for months on end. In this series of videos, three composers explore meanings of that word: “home.” This series was produced in collaboration with videographer Orlando Thompson.
Alice Chance is a sought-after artist with a flare for the human voice. Her compositions are performed in concert halls (Sydney Opera House, The Kennedy Centre, City Recital Hall Angel Place) and cathedrals (St. Mary’s Cathedral, Sydney; Stanford Memorial Church, California; Trinity Church Wall St., New York City) and sung in studios, paddocks, and showers all around Australia. A member of Australia's national Eurovision Jury in 2019, and finalist in the APRA Art Music Awards 2018 and 2019, Chance works across genres and with all kinds of musicians. Chance was the Music Director and Vocal Arranger of the Mathilda Award-winning musical FANGIRLS (Belvoir, Queensland Theatre). In 2020, she presented a virtual choir work at TEDxSydney. In 2021, Chance is creating music for ensembles including the Sydney Symphony Orchestra.
The composer writes:
In Until We Gather Again, I aim to paint an honest portrait of a scattered choir who can no longer meet. I wanted to unearth their stories, their experiences, their hopes for themselves and each other. I've aimed to shine light on the bonds that are still holding them together. And by extension, illuminate that which has continued to hold us all together in recent times.
This work was born in 2020 during lockdown in Sydney, Australia. Suddenly, we could no longer gather, and nobody knew how long till we'd be able to do so again. I started thinking about what it means to be in a group who can no longer meet. Especially a group of musicians.
To create the original, I received a grant from the Australian Music Centre to make a work with a local community choir—Leichhardt Espresso Chorus—who, like others, had made the quick and fraught transition to online music-making. I had seen a lot of content involving musicians lining up videos of themselves playing and singing along with each other. Although I was very impressed by this sort of thing, I have to admit it left me with a slight feeling of emptiness. I was seeing virtual ensembles all 'in sync' with each other, but wanted to create a work that reflected how out of sync I felt.
Out of sync with others Out of sync with myself Out of sync with my plans, dreams, and priorities. Out of sync with people I was trying to talk to on Zoom…
In the premiere of this new iteration of the work, I want to thank the choruses of the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra for their beautiful and deeply moving contributions to this work. I also want to thank the staff of the SLSO and Tim Munro for his curation and support. Finally, I want to thank the Pulitzer Arts Foundation without whom this work would not be possible.
The St. Louis Symphony: Live at the Pulitzer series is curated by the SLSO's Creative Partner, Tim Munro.
(More information about the work is available here)