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Voiceless? Classical Singer Wellbeing and COVID-19

A British Academy-funded study of the impact of the pandemic on the wellbeing of professional classical singers from five countries.

Voiceless? Classical Singer Wellbeing and COVID-19

After two difficult years during which live classical music performances were mostly shut down, both singers and their audiences are now slowly returning to live performing.  The physical, mental, relational, and artistic wellbeing of classical singers has been impacted by the experience, and longer-term wellbeing challenges remain as further uncertainties over newer variants, restructuring of musical institutions and audiences' fear of crowds affect both performers and audiences alike in this new post-Covid 'normal'.

Led by ICMuS Head of Performance Dr. Larry Zazzo and Senior Lecturer Dr. Adam Behr, this qualitative study funded by the British Academy invited professional classical singers from five different countries to share their experiences during the pandemic, and measure its impact, both short and long term, on their wellbeing. 

preliminary report on findings from this study was published by the Journal of Musical Health and Wellbeing in Autumn 2021.

Newcastle University hosted a one-day symposium in November 2022, Singing Again: Classical Singer Wellbeing and COVID-19.  Invited singers from the study were joined by wellbeing practitioners, performance science experts and invited guests from the classical music industry including Natalie Eastwood (Clinical Lead (SLT- Speech Language Therapy) in Voice at Newcastle Hospitals), Philippa Anderson(Vocal Rehabilitation Coach and BAPAM Registered Practitioner), Philip Morris (North of England Regional Officer, Musicians Union), Professor Aaron Williamon Director, Centre for Performance Science, Royal College of Music and Imperial College, London, Claire Cordeaux Director of the British Association of Performing Arts Medicine (BAPAM), Bill Bankes-Jones (Opera director, Founder/Artistic Director of Tête-à-tête Opera, Director of Freelancers Make Theatre Work), and opera singers Christina Clark (soprano), Anna Bonitatibus (mezzo soprano), and Luigi DeDonato (bass)

It was an opportunity for all to reflect back on the challenges to performer wellbeing over the pandemic and to consider its lasting legacies, providing an opportunity for discussions of the ways in which performers can find wellbeing support both within their community and by the cultural and government classical performing ecosystem.

Videos of the event, including some opera arias and duets by the participating artists (accompanied by our head of keyboard David Murray), on our YouTube channel.

Watch more videos on the ICMus YouTube channel

Philip Morris Adam Behr Ana Bonitatibus and Bill Bankes-Jones Singing Again Symposium Newcastle Music November 2022

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