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Choir School is launching its 2020-2021 season with a virtual event and a dose of literacy intervention

The chorus is turning its "We Tell the Story" series to a virtual format until health and safety restrictions are eased.

The Choir School of Delaware. (Courtesy photo)

The Choir School of Delaware, an intergenerational chorus that has performed continuously since 1883, will be kicking off its 2020-2021 subscription series on Oct. 24 with “Brush Up Your Shakespeare,” a concert featuring players from the Delaware Shakespeare ensemble, preceded by a lecture on Shakespearean text.

If it sounds more like an English lesson than a choir concert, that’s by design: The season was curated as a means of literacy intervention for Choir School students.

“Over the past year, we have noticed that many choristers are reading well below grade-level proficiency,” said Arreon A. Harley-Emerson, director of music and operations. “With students missing nearly 35% of in-school time due to COVID-19, we have decided to focus on developing literacy and comprehension in the upcoming year. We know our students love to sing, so we have crafted a season that will allow them to improve literacy skills while learning and performing fun choral repertoire.”

As part of the focus on literacy skills, the Choir School has partnered with Winterthur Museum, Garden and Library, which has named the choir its 2020-2021 artists-in-residence for a series of concerts at the historic du Pont estate.

The season, themed “We Tell the Story,” will continue through April 2021. It will remain virtual for as long as necessary; some events may be in-person, following CDC regulations, depending on health and safety recommendations.

After “Brush Up Your Shakespeare,” the events will be as follows:

  • Sunday, Dec. 13, 2020 at 4 p.m. — “Sounds of the Season”
    • Winterthur Museum, Garden & Library
    • The choir will tell classic holiday stories through song, including “A Dickens Christmas
  • Sunday, Feb. 28, 2021 at 4 p.m. — “Stories of Freedom & Justice”
    • Grace Episcopal Church
    • This event will feature poetry from Paul Lawrence Dunbar, Gwendolyn Brooks, Langston Hughes and Delaware’s Twin Poet laureates. A new work will also be premiered in remembrance of the 60th anniversary of the Freedom Rides.
  • Wednesday, June 16, 2021 at 6 p.m. — Annual Gala: “We Tell The Story”
    • DuPont Country Club
      • The Choir School’s annual cabaret fundraiser features “Why We Tell the Story,” a musical theatre revue by Tony-Award winning songwriting duo Stephen Flaherty and Lynn Ahrens, with scenes from “Seussical the Musical,” “Once on this Island,” “Ragtime” and “Anastasia.” Proceeds benefit the Choir School Annual Fund.
  • Sunday, April 25, 2021 at 4 p.m. — Special Event: “Fables, Folklore & Fairytales”
    • Winterthur Museum, Garden & Library
    • The Choir School of Delaware’s second concert as artists-in-residence at Winterthur Museum, Garden, and Library will feature fables, fairy tales and nursery rhymes with a musical twist.

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