John Newell, director of EAC’s community chorus, Quoddy Voices, has worked to keep his singers connected even though they’re unable to meet and join in song. In addition to compiling listening lists of favorite choral works and sharing these via lively email threads, Newell recently engaged several of the singers in a virtual chorus project.
“I found this particular project based in London, a collaboration of two choruses: Quaggy Community Choir and Palace Acappella. Their approach to virtual choir really appealed to me, so I communicated the opportunity to Quoddy Voices singers. Barb Smith, Manuela Brice and Jenny Gillies took me up on it.“
The project centered on a simple canonic piece to learn and sing, composed by the young director of Quaggy Community Choir (now a ‘sister choir’ of Quoddy Voices!).
“It’s been a real hardship not being able to sing together during this challenging Covid time,” said Barb Smith. “We’ve been told that singing is one of the riskiest activities we can participate in and it seems so bizarre that something so beautiful and nurturing can put us at risk of losing our lives.” Smith went on to describe the process: each participant created a recording of a short round and submitted it via email. The final step was meeting via Zoom to create the visuals.
“It has been my hope that something good will come out of this pandemic craziness,” noted Manuela Brice. “Using the digital gadgets that easily isolate us (while fake connecting us) in such a way that fosters meaningful interaction and engagement can actually provide a tight knit fabric of community. Singing, especially singing with the Quoddy Voices, used to provide such a framework very naturally. So, I was very grateful to John Newell, our Quoddy Voices conductor, to facilitate the opportunity to partake in this virtual choir project. It was interesting to record a simple round individually and then hear your part joined virtually with so many others in blended community. I hope we all did ‘a good job’ lip-syncing to our audio parts in a subsequent zoom session and I am excited to see and hear the finished project. The process was joyful and facilitated very professionally by members of the London-based community choirs.”
“Joyful is the perfect description for the virtual choir project!” added Jenny Gillies. “It was truly joyful to be singing with this group. The zoom meeting to record the visuals was a hoot too! Chatting beforehand, some of the participants mentioned they were presently vacationing in France, many were in England, and they were very welcoming to us Mainers. I’m very grateful to the Quaggy Choir folks who are doing all the organizing and mixing, and to John Newell for finding this opportunity and inviting us to join in.
Newell reported that the final project will be released soon, and all can be sure that EAC will share the resulting video!