The Whitehorse Community Choir perform at a show in 2019. (Submitted/Bruce Barrett)

The Whitehorse Community Choir perform at a show in 2019. (Submitted/Bruce Barrett)

Whitehorse Community Choir’s spring concert set for April 30, May 1

It will be the first live concert since the pandemic began

Members of the Whitehorse Community Choir will Look on the Bright Side as they get ready to perform for a live audience for the first time since Christmas 2019.

The choir will be on stage at the Yukon Arts Centre April 30 and May 1 for its spring performance — Look on the Bright Side.

“Everyone’s excited,” choir director Barbara Chamberlin said in an April 23 interview.

The choir was just five weeks out from its annual spring concert at the Yukon Arts Centre in 2020 when it was cancelled. Before that, its last concert had been in December 2019 to mark the festive season.

“When COVID hit, we just dropped everything,” Chamberlin said.

Along with the spring concert was a cancelled trip to New York some choir members were set to take that would have included performing at Carnagie Hall.

Like many groups, the choir adapted as best it could using virtual options. In September 2020, it began its regular choir season as a virtual choir with online performances planned as members would take “selfie” videos of themselves singing. Chamberlin then worked to put the music together to make a single video that showed the choir singing together.

While not ideal, it provided an option for those still wanting the choir experience in the midst of a pandemic.

“That was a lot of work,” Chamberlin said of the first virtual performance.

She admits it’s not her preferred way to work with the choir and, for many members, not the preferred way to perform.

As the year moved on and restrictions were changed, small portions of the choir — three or four members at a time — were eventually able to get on stage at the arts centre for recorded performances. Another video was recorded at MacBride Museum.

Small groups like the sopranos would come in and sing their part for a recording with another group then in to do their share. The voices would then be put together in a recording that could be viewed online.

Whitehorse Community Choir director Barbara Chamberlin seen in her home studio in Riverdale on April 23. (Stephanie Waddell/Yukon News)

The choir was eventually able to meet in-person for rehearsals, albeit in smaller groups.

For that, the choir was divided into two groups — a treble group and a mixed group. Even then there was a limit on how many from each group could meet in a given week with some members attending the sessions virtually.

Often if a member showed up one week they would agree to attend the next rehearsal virtually. The virtual option also allowed for members to join from Outside, including one of Chamberlin’s former students who now lives in Montana.

As rehearsals continued, Chamberlin was able to look at the current COVID-19 restrictions and begin planning for a concert in front of a live, albeit smaller, audience.

After such a different year, it only seemed fitting that the theme of the spring concert this year would be around looking on the bright side, “a show that’s sure to lift your spirits during these difficult times”, as its described on the Yukon Arts Centre website.

“It’s dedicated to this past year,” Chamberlin said of the show.

While the choir is looking forward to getting back on stage in front of an audience, it will be a very different experience from concerts past. Due to spacing requirements, audience seating will be limited to about 84, though there is also a streaming option available for those who might prefer to watch online.

The choir will also be divided into its two groups. With the exception of a few members who are part of both, there is to be no mingling of the groups.

The treble group will be the first to perform, followed by the mixed group for the second half of the concert.

Masks will be worn by choir members to the stage before being removed for the performance. Members will then put their masks on after the show to leave the stage and make their way out of the building.

The performance also requires the choir to have a side stage manager in place to deal with the logistics that come with meeting the requirements.

Once on stage, Chamberlin will be directing the choir from exactly 12 feet away with another 12 feet between her and the audience.

Despite the added requirements that now come with any staged event, Chamberlin said she’s excited for the concert.

“It will be lots of fun,” she said.

Many of the songs — including the one after which the concert is named — are upbeat and fun to perform, Chamberlin said. Throughout the performance the choir will also showcase some of the pieces that were recorded over the course of the past year giving the audience an idea of what the past year has been like for the choir.

There will be performances on April 30 and May 1. Tickets are available through the Yukon Arts Centre website.

Contact Stephanie Waddell at stephanie.waddell@yukon-news.com

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