ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – A local chorus is gearing up for their first performance since before the pandemic with new COVID-19 protocols in place. The New Mexico Symphonic Chorus said their last performance was March 8, 2020, just days before the first COVID cases in our state. Now, they are getting ready for their first concert back.

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It’s been 17 long months since the New Mexico Symphonic Chorus has rehearsed. Music director Roger Melone said they are down to about half of their members following new COVID protocols. “Everyone in the chorus has to be fully vaccinated,” Melone said. “We are wearing masks, which singers hate.”

On top of mandatory vaccinations and masks, they are spacing chairs apart and separating the men and women for a portion of rehearsals. “In the full group, wearing masks and spaced out, everyone has a hard time hearing,” Melone said. “We thought maybe break into smaller groups to master rhythms and pitches of new music.”

Melone said the new requirements come as he has seen outbreaks in choruses in other places like San Francisco and Washington State. “That is why we are being cautious,” Melone said.

While the new rules are certainly different, singers said they are happy to be back together doing what they love. “It is harder to articulate, but it is definitely better than not singing,” singer Beverly Williams said.

Melone said come concert season, they will be ready to put on a show no matter what rules are in place. “Whatever it is, we will figure it out and adjust to it,” Melone said.

Their first concert is October 10. They anticipate masks will still be required then. The group plans to hold more auditions in a few months to get their numbers back up.