What gives you hope to move on

Today there is chicken fricassee with peas and a mixed salad in the Thomaner dormitory. The dressing here is always a little sweeter than usual because there are a lot of children at the table. Usually. Actually, all St. Thomas live here, in the "box". But now there are only four of them left; everyone from Leipzig was sent home when the epidemic was there.

The large tables in the dining room are empty, only one is occupied. There are adults who work in the kitchen, in the clothes closet or as teachers. The mood depresses all of them. Instead of the offspring raging through the corridors singing and whistling, they only have each other. And the hope that the bottom has finally been reached. That at least one more big concert will take place before the summer break, before the high school graduate class dissipates to the wind.

Now they are grateful to at least be able to rehearse again, albeit in a very small group. For her first "motet" last Saturday in the Thomaskirche. With the Thomaner, individual lessons have just started again under strict conditions. During instrumental lessons, the teacher and student wear a mask; when practicing singing, the student sings in a large mirror, and the teacher stands at a suitable distance behind him. The teacher must be able to see how the pupil breathes, how he stands, how the whole body shapes the tone.

"You are brave guys," the cantor calls out. But this crisis also makes the voices thin

Schwarz strolls relaxed through the dining room in the direction of the rehearsal room. At least that's what it looks like. Everything is precisely mapped out. The plastic floor is paved with stripes in red-white and black-yellow, countered by green footprints that show where and in which direction you can move without any problems. "You have to give the children positive support, not just bans," says the happy home manager Thoralf Schulze, who hurries through the hallways and always seems a bit rushed, as if he could push the time until everything is back to normal . He proudly leads into the new rehearsal room made of glass, steel and side acoustic panels made of wood, which almost screams to be filled with music.

But that is difficult today. Where there is usually a semicircle of choir singers, there are just three fourth graders in a wide triangle. The health department has allowed small groups of five singers, which means that there are five times as many samples, each for a maximum of 25 minutes, followed by a five-minute ventilation break. Thomaskantor Schwarz is supported by older students who lead the singing and bear the beautiful title "Cantor famulus".

Weeks ago the young singers got the marks for Bach's motet "Praise the Lord, all Heiden" and practiced at home. But now, so alone in the great hall, they can hardly open their mouths. The many new rules of conduct, the distance requirement, hand disinfection at the entrance, the subsequent questioning about symptoms by the nurse, the whole situation is a burden for the children, no matter how hard they try to cover it up. "You're brave guys," calls Cantor Schwarz to them, but it doesn't help much. The praise of the Lord remains muted today; it will not reach the Gentiles today.