Covid infects 30 out of 41 choir singers

Covid infects 30 out of 41 choir singers


norman lebrecht

September 24, 2020

From the Associated Press:

Madrid (AP): At least 30 of 41 members of a gospel choir in northeastern Spain have contracted coronavirus following a rehearsal indoors with little air circulation…

The River Troupe Gospel, a volunteer gospel group, rehearsed on Sept. 11 ahead of an open-air performance two days later for a local festival in Sallent, a town in the province of Barcelona. It was their first public show since the beginning of the pandemic.

After one member of the chorus tested positive following the Sept. 13 performance, more than 40 other members and their close contacts went into isolation…

Read on here.



  • Soprano says:

    And my +65yr old Spanish singing students insist on asking for face-to-face singing lessons! Any doubt why Spain is the leading european country in COVID 2nd wave?

  • Doc Martin says:

    I would read Nick Wilson’s excellent commentary in BMJ on aerosol transmission of sars-cov-2. The larynx has a key role. Ventilation is very important indoors, the air conditioning systems of theatres, opera houses and concert halls will all need revalidating involving either replacing or upgrading them to meet the challenge of sars-cov-2 and any other viral infections in the future.

    A recent study in Florida, I came across recently suggests airborne transmission in hospital wards, occurs up to 5m, so the 2m may need changing.

  • SVM says:

    But how many of these infections were severe? Although the report cites an overall death toll in Spain attributed to the pandemic as a whole (to date), it makes no reference to whether any of the choir members (or their contacts) ended up in hospital or dead. Was the first person who tested positive tested at random, or did he/she present with symptoms?

  • Jeremy Bines says:

    I’d like to add my own experience to the several well-publicised stories of super-spreading in chorus rehearsals and choir practices around the world.

    I held my last chorus rehearsal before lockdown at the Deutsche Oper Berlin, where I’m the Chorus Director, on the morning of 12 March, the day the house ceased all activities. There were probably about 60 of us in that rehearsal, working in an unventilated room for an hour and a half. Two days later, I started showing symptoms of Covid, and tested positive two days after that, which means I would in all likelihood have been riddled with the virus when I took that rehearsal.

    Not a single member of the Chor der Deutschen Oper got it.

    Of course, this may prove nothing other than that we were lucky and others weren’t. Distancing, and above all, good ventilation, are crucial right now, and most organisations are behaving in a suitably responsible way.

    It may be no coincidence that I managed to avoid passing on the virus, since, along with our pianist, I’m probably the most physically isolated person in the room in those rehearsals. However, I wanted to throw my experience into the mix. Not every chorus rehearsal where there’s an infected person need turn into a super-spreading event.

    It would be interesting to know exactly what hygiene protocols were adhered to in the case of this story from Spain.

    • Amos says:

      First, you have no idea what your viral titer was on the day of the rehearsal so to suggest you were “riddled with virus” is without factual basis. Second, as you point out you were inadvertently practicing social distancing. Third, while I assume you were conversing with your colleagues I doubt you were engaging in very much full-voiced singing. Last, imo suggesting that your experience should in any way guide public health policy, given the numerous disasters like the one documented in Spain, is very counterproductive.

      • Jeremy Bines says:

        Hello Amos. Your first two points are absolutely fair, which is why I wouldn’t dream of “suggesting that [my] experience should in any way guide public health policy”.

        I haven’t. The science should guide public health policy.

        It does prompt the question of how exactly the Spanish choir were going about their rehearsal, beyond the room being badly ventilated.

      • Doc Martin says:

        Its viral load and antibody titre actually Amos. The titre falls off post cov-19 recovery, the RT-PCR swab test can give a positive weeks after recovery as it cannot tell the difference between RNA fragments from live virus or from a previous infection.

  • Doc Martin says:

    Sars-cov-2 can have an incubation period up to 14 days, so a single swab PCR test has little clinical value, one needs at least a second test done 5-8 days later, if the first was negative.

    A false positive can arise as the test does not distinguish RNA fragments from current (live) and a previous infection. Asymptomatic transmission is therefore a possibility as yet unquantified in the literature. The issue of super spreaders has been discussed on John Campbell’s youtube blog.