As the pandemic lingers on, activity for the arts has been put on an indefinite pause nationwide. Arts programs all around the world are having to adjust to the new normal. Even Broadway has been shut down since March, with no clear idea of when it will reopen.

Chock Full O’ Notes, Keene State’s only a cappella group, is among those trying to navigate these difficult times. Due to social distancing guidelines set by the college and the state of New Hampshire, the group has not been able to hold regular meetings this semester. They have also chosen to not hold auditions for the Fall 2020 semester.

“We’ve decided against auditions for this semester because the whole group would need to get together to do that. Also, we would have a lot of people coming in to sing for us in person. So, we’ve just decided to forego auditions and recruiting new members until further notice,” said President of Chock Full O’ Notes Alexandra Magee.

Aside from the social distancing and mask mandates, finding a space large enough for the group to rehearse while properly social distancing is proving to be an obstacle.

“I think the biggest struggle that we’ve had is trying to find a space where we can socially distance while having a place we can all get together and be face-to-face,” said Vice President of Chock Full O’ Notes Dominic Lynch. “But other than that, we’re staying in touch, we’re staying connected and things are going well.”

Presently, Chock Full O’ Notes is brainstorming ways to maintain their presence without being able to perform. In lieu of performances, they are hoping to record and release an album this semester.

“We are hoping to do it before this semester is over,” said Magee. “CFON has made albums in the past so we’d really like to do that, especially since we can’t perform at all this semester. So if we can do that it would be a really big win for us.”

“It is definitely a discussion we are very excited about. That was something we did a couple years ago… and that’s something we’ve wanted to do for a while,” said Lynch. “And especially with COVID, we can’t have full rehearsals anymore… so we thought it would be a really good way for us to not go rusty.”

Despite the many challenges brought upon by COVID-19, the group is optimistic about the future. They are hoping to be able to hold auditions in January, if the situation allows.

“We aren’t getting any new members for the fall, but we’re optimistic for the spring.” said Lynch.

Still, there are many unknowns.

“I miss being on stage with everyone. It’s a family,” said Chock Full O’ Notes member, Mary Graham. “I just miss being with everyone and having it feel normal. And I’m excited for when we can hopefully audition for new people in January,”

Even though they are not able to proceed with operations like normal, Chock Full O’ Notes is still maintaining their presence. Hopefully, the group will be able to return to the stage soon.


Caitlin Howard can be reached at:

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