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NCCO9 National Conference

NCCO9 Conference Update

In light of the spread of the Omicron variant of the novel coronavirus, the current and future NCCO Executive Boards have met to discuss how to move forward while centering the safety and security of the beloved community we are working to build. In conjunction with our hosts at Morehouse College and with much sadness, we have decided to cancel our plans for an in-person conference and pivot our conference offerings to an online format offered in multiple virtual sessions over the next three months.

We did not make this decision lightly, and it causes us great pain to do so after the many hours of planning and volunteer commitment from so many people, including and especially David Morrow and our hosts at Morehouse College.

Even still, the facts are not in our favor:
- the conference dates of January 20-22 are right in the middle of the predicted crest of the Omicron wave;
- the science on the Omicron variant is developing, and we can’t say for certain if it causes less severe illness, though we certainly know it is more transmissible;
- we started to receive inquiries from our presenters and our membership about their own reticence to travel, and we can’t host a conference without the people who make it possible; and
- Morehouse College has made the decision to be virtual through January 28th, making an in-person conference no longer possible.

We did not want to make this choice, and certainly not just a few weeks before we were to finally meet again in-person after a two-year hiatus. Nevertheless, our newly adopted vision and mission statements express and center the creation and sustenance of community, and we couldn’t in good faith go forward with an in-person conference where a strong segment of our membership would not feel safe to attend. As our Director of Affinity Groups Dr. Jace Saplan recently stated, “safety is at the heart of our work in diversity, equity, inclusion, and justice.”

So here is what this means for you:

All attendees who paid for registration to attend NCCO9 will see their conference fees refunded. Refunds will be processed by January 22nd through PayPal to the same credit card you used to register. If you wish to donate your registration fee to NCCO, please write Treasurer Matthew Ferrell before January 20th at [email protected] and we will gratefully keep it to further our programs. If we don’t hear from you, we will simply refund your fees.

All advertisers and sponsors will be contacted to discuss their contributions. We will still have a program book with our activities – now scheduled over a much longer period of time – and we will still have place for advertisements and sponsorship notices, but if any advertisers or sponsors desire a refund, we will certainly honor those requests.

All presenters will be contacted to have their sessions rescheduled in an online/virtual format, if they so wish. You will be hearing from Conference Administrator Brian Gorelick and President-Elect to-be Katherine FitzGibbon in the coming days about how you might want to reschedule your presentation. This will be “opt-in,” so if you choose not to participate, you won’t be compelled to.

All rescheduled online conference activities will be free for current members of NCCO. You won’t have to pay to take part in any of these sessions, and a schedule of the “who, what, and when” will be forthcoming in the coming weeks as we work to contact our presenters, panelists, and headliners.

Morehouse College will remain our virtual conference host. David Morrow and singers from Morehouse, Spelman, Clark Atlanta University, and Georgia State University will meet to record the Marguerite Brooks Commission, Thy Silver Pinions by Stacy Garrop, and we will present this premiere in an online format. We will also schedule a plenary webinar with choral leaders from these institutions, as we were hoping to do as our final conference event.

In addition, incoming President Kellori Dower has committed to hosting our next in-person conference at Morehouse College in Atlanta, Georgia. This is crucially important to us, and while we don’t yet know “when,” we are still committed to gathering on Morehouse’s campus in the near future.

We will host an NCCO9 Choral Performance Video Watch Party. We received and chose 18 outstanding virtual performances by choruses from across the United States, and we will host a YouTubeLive watch party during our original conference dates to celebrate the accomplishments of these outstanding singers and conductors. Kudos to President-Elect Katherine FitzGibbon and Secretary Marie Bucoy-Calavan for developing this idea.

We are evaluating how best to schedule those things that don’t translate easily to an online format. We will be in contact with our Conducting Fellows to work out how to restructure their master class opportunity with Anton Armstrong. We will also find a way to recognize our new Honorary Life Members. We won’t be able to recreate the receptions, casual gatherings, and meet-ups that are so intrinsic to the building of community at an in-person conference, but we have other ideas for how to gather, and we will be sharing those with you soon.

Our Tuesday, January 4th online gathering with The Choral Commons has been postponed. We will reschedule this session as a part of our developing virtual activities for the conference in the coming weeks.

Thank you again for your understanding. We recognize that some of you may have made hotel or airfare commitments that may be non-refundable, and we are deeply sorry if you find yourself in this position. Many airlines and hotels are offering travel certificates or credit toward future stays in the event of COVID disruptions, and we encourage you to contact them to see what might be possible. We once again ask your patience and grace as we continue to deal with the disruptions to our activities caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

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