It was the week before Christmas. The Choir of Christ Church St Laurence rehearsed Silent Night– Willcocks arrangement. News of two people in Avalon coming down with COVID-19 announced earlier that day was just a blip on our radar.

After weeks of no community cases, the restrictions NSW Health had placed on group singing had finally loosened. The rule at that time allowed up to 50 singers to gather. For this choir, it meant for the first time in months, we were allowed to sing together. And we were still careful. Only a dozen choristers were planned per service in the lead up to Christmas. There were twice as many carol services and Eucharist’s to accommodate the COVID normal.

Sydney Chamber Choir – pre-COVID

By the next day, at the end of another rehearsal, there were 17 cases in the Avalon outbreak. By Sunday the number had tripled. And singing was once again restricted to a group of five.

As a choral scholar, I had the extraordinary privilege to sing during the week of Christmas. Being part of the five, I felt the emotional weight of those choristers who couldn’t be there and...