By June Graham

Chorus York members live in York Region and love to sing. We used to practise and perform in person.

Then along came COVID.

For the past 18 months, our weekly rehearsals and seasonal performances have been virtual. We’ve learned how to record music for YouTube videos, and now we’re taping three lively Christmas pieces. To help us all get in the spirit of the season, Councillor Daisy Wei and MP Majid Jowhari will post our You Tube performances on their websites on December 13.

Recording our voices has been interesting and challenging for all of us. In my case, it has been very instructive to sing into a microphone; sing in time and on pitch to the track of pre-recorded music (heard through an earbud); and watch myself singing on a monitor. These novelties have provided me with greater self-awareness of my vocal capabilities and introduced me to the demands of practising and recording alone.
In the home recording studio of our co-founder, Allen Morrow, I’ve learned that he can delete some singing mistakes, while he must stop to correct other gaffs. I’m sure that the used blanket, which he hangs behind me to muffle the occasional sound from upstairs, is not what they use in professional recording studios. Still, it seems to do the trick. After all members have recorded their parts,  Allen sends the tapes to Stéphane Potvin, our Director, who then produces miracles by adjusting volume and balance, and by syncing the music’s words with the singers’ lips.

Before we hired Stéphane as Director in fall 2016, we’d been singing together for a year and had performed a few months before with the symphony, under the temporary direction of one of our members—the capable Joan Plume. When the talented Stephane Potvin became our Director, we soon understood the faith he had in us as a choral group. Not only did he drive from Hamilton every week for our rehearsal, but he also believed we were ready for our first public performance. And so, under his direction, we gave our first Christmas concert—Our First Nowell.

Under his leadership, we do what we have always done–bring good music and enjoyment to the communities in York Region, through our heartfelt love of singing selections from Bach to Broadway.

During the past five years, we have been invited to perform in concert halls, churches, libraries, hotels, retirement homes, shopping malls, parks, conservation areas, and at the foot of civic monuments. Through the celebrations of the seasons and special holiday recognitions, we have sung heartily (even in the snow and rain.)

Since 2016 we have the pleasure of being the guests of the Richmond Hill Philharmonic Orchestra, under the excellent conductor, Jessica Kun, in a performance of “Last Night at the Proms.” We sang Vivaldi’s “Gloria”, John Rutter’s For the Beauty of the Earth, excerpts from Mozart’s Requiem, and a collection of French folk songs arranged by Donald Patriquin.What a wonderful experience it was to sing with the accompaniment of a full orchestra in the concert hall of the Richmond Hill Centre for the Performing Arts.

We’re looking forward to seeing you in person when we can perform live again.

We’re here to prove that COVID can’t keep a good choir down.