A Letter from the President of Sackets Harbor Vocal Arts Ensemble

Dear Singers, Prospective Members, and our wonderful community,

Unfortunately, due to the current COVID-19 rise in cases due to the Delta variant, we as a Board of Directors have decided to postpone restarting our Sackets Harbor Vocal Arts Ensemble (SHVAE) rehearsals until at least 2022. This is for the safety of our singers, director, families, the Trinity Episcopal Church staff, and our audience members. We will reassess towards the end of the year and post through our website and Facebook page to keep everyone up to date.

Throughout the pandemic, your Board has been meeting (virtually until just recently) and holding many discussions on who we are as a choir, what we want to achieve moving forward, and how we want our musical contributions to the North Country and beyond to be defined. We came up with the following items:

  1. First and foremost, we are a CHOIR, dedicated to challenging the singer and providing high-quality choral performance opportunities to singers in our area, as well as making these performances easily available to members of our community.
  2. We are dedicated to performing with great accompaniment, be that pianists, organists, small ensembles, or full orchestras.
  3. We are dedicated to quality. This means we will continue to look for professional soloists whenever they are needed.
  4. We are a choral group, and we will continue to develop our full-choir sound and blend rather than trying to develop or feature solo singing from within our ranks.

To live up to this vision, we have faced the hard truth that budgets may need to dictate how & what we perform. Yes, we would all like to continue to perform works to the scale of our smashing 2019 Handel’s Messiah, but that took almost $15K to bring that performance together. It is just not feasible to expect to do this for every concert and still provide a regular, challenging choral opportunity for singers in our community. Fortunately, we have a new resource; Trinity’s own new Steinway concert grand piano! This masterful instrument is an orchestra unto itself, and it is our hope to utilize it as a way to create some truly wonderful performances WITHOUT the costs of a full orchestra.

We also looked at the models of other choirs of similar size and caliber in the region and saw we were missing out on an important element which helps support these choirs’ choral aspirations, and this is choral dues. In general, most choirs of our size and those that perform at our level require their members to pay a certain amount in dues (be that per concert, bi-annually, or yearly) as a way of offsetting the costs of space rentals, music, director fees, rehearsal accompanists, etc. This means that fundraising, sponsorships, and advertising sales go solely into supporting a particular concert rather than covering the “administrative costs” unique to a choir. We have decided to move to that model as well as a way to shore up our accounts and help us move towards being able to do those large works we so love to do. We agreed upon the model as follows:

Singer Type Dues
Individual $35 per year
Couple (spouses, parent-child, significant others, etc) $50 per year
Student (highschool or w/ valid college id) $25 per year

Dues will be collected during the first couple weeks of rehearsal. It is expected for a singer to participate for them to have paid those dues in full (unless other arrangements are made with someone on the Board).

While these amounts are small, we recognize that there are chances that this still causes a financial burden to some individuals. To that end, if this is a challenge to you, please see a member of the Board privately to make alternative arrangements (payment plan, negotiated rate, or discussion of coverage under a scholarship).

When we restart rehearsing (hopefully winter/spring 2022), we have set out on a new project for our choir, working to get out of the traditional performance space and more into the community. To do this, we will be partnering with and performing at the Roswell P. Memorial Library (dates TBA). We will be featuring two family-friendly lighter works, John Rutter’s The Reluctant Dragon, and Bob Chilcott’s Aesop’s Fables, and are looking to enhance these with dramatic storytelling or other artistic whimsy for an easily accessible concert for the whole community. We are still looking at doing this performance in another location as well, so stay tuned.

Upon the restarting of rehearsals, for the safety of all and in accordance with Trinity Church policy, singers may only participate in choral activities if fully vaccinated against COVID-19. We will be verifying through the presentation of vaccine cards or use of the NY Excellsior Pass (or other out-of-state alternatives).

Lastly, and as always, we could greatly use your help financially. Please consider giving a donation (above and beyond your dues) or supporting us if you are not participating at this time. Specifically, consider sponsoring a singer with a dues scholarship to help those unable to pay, sponsor a musician or soloist, or give generally so that we might continue creating the high-quality choral music we are accustomed to. Sackets Harbor Vocal Arts Ensemble is a registered 501c-3, so all donations (including dues) are tax-deductible.

We look forward to being back and moving forward.


Greg Skipton,

President, Sackets Harbor Vocal Arts Ensemble