VIDEO: Walk Through This Socially Distanced Choir Forest


IN THE DEPTHS of the pandemic, when choral groups could not safely gather to sing indoors, The Crossing Choir of Philadelphia took their singing outdoors, into parks and open-air venues. Last October, they premiered a work entitled “The Forest” in Bowman’s Hill, a stand of mature trees, many over 200 years old, in the Philadelphia neighborhood of Mt. Airy.

During the performance, the singers, unmasked, stood far apart among the trees, their voices amplified by specially-designed speakers, while audience members walked at safely-distanced intervals along a thousand-foot path through the forest. The libretto drew on the singers’ written accounts of life during the pandemic, along with excerpts from Scott Russell Sanders’ essay “Mind in the Forest,” which first appeared in Orion. Read the libretto, with excerpts from “Mind in the Forest” in italics.


The virtual walk takes twenty minutes. We recommend full screen and full sound. Enjoy.



Scott Russell Sanders is an Orion advisor, and his essay “Buckeye” is included in the new anthology, Old Growth, Orion’s best writing about trees.


This is a collection of Orion Staff contributions.