Musica Sacra chorus studies science, resumes in-person rehearsals

Cincinnati’s Musica Sacra community choral group is holding in-person rehearsals this fall, making it a national as well as local pioneer in resuming in-person musical activities.

Musica Sacra is an ecumenical choral ensemble devoted to performing sacred masterworks in the spaces for which they were intended, at no charge to the public. The choir was founded in 1965 by the late Helmut Roehrig, and is currently led by Music Director L. Brett Scott.

Conductor L. Brett Scott

Among the performing arts, choral singing is considered the riskiest due to the force with which a singer expels air. Once a major aerosol study by the University of Cincinnati was published in August, Musica Sacra officials studied the guidance coming out from the American Choral Directors Association and other groups, then sought out resources to meet the recommended criteria for space and air circulation. 

“If we did not have a venue that allowed appropriate spacing, traffic flow, HVAC, etc. in-person rehearsals likely would not be happening,” said Musica Sacra board president Anneliese Clear.

The group started in-person rehearsals at St. Boniface Church in Northside. The church has a modern HVAC system, plus numerous ceiling fans throughout the sanctuary space, moving the recommended amount of air.  

Members of the chorus are using special ‘singers’ masks, sitting at the recommended distance apart, and singing for only 30 minutes at a time in small groups.  A 20-minute break between groups allows for the air to be cleared. 

Musica Sacra is rehearsing for a fall performance of Faure’s Requiem and “Cantique de Jean Racine,” which will be streamed in November (date TBA). These are the works that Musica Sacra had originally prepared for their scheduled March 23, 2020 performance at Carnegie Hall, which was canceled very shortly before the event.

Musica Sacra in a pre-COVID performance at the Cathedral Basilica of the Assumption in Covington

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