GUELPH COMMUNITY SINGERS
Love to sing, but feeling a little rusty these days? On Nov. 18, Guelph Community Singers (GCS), the city’s largest community choir, is opening its virtual doors to singers from Guelph and beyond.
Like other choirs around the world, GCS has been unable to sing in person since mid-March due to the pandemic. Group singing is considered a higher risk activity. But rather than waiting to meet only after distancing measures are lifted later, the choir is finding new ways to sing together now.
“Our members range from university students to seniors. It’s a community choir in the truest sense of the word, and open to everyone,” says Kira Vermond, GCS board chair. “So while people have missed singing together, they also miss seeing friendly faces. This is about mental health and helping people feel less isolated.”
With aid from the City of Guelph’s one-time COVID-19 Emergency Fund, the choir was able to launch a short, five-week pilot session in September for members who missed out on their full spring season due to COVID-19. More than half of the choir’s 100 members signed up to sing using Zoom, as director Henry Muth and accompanist Grace Peters led each rehearsal. Choir members were muted, but could hear Muth sing and Peters play. The choir used the pilot session to iron out kinks in sound quality and song selection.
Now, the choir is ready to welcome former and new members to sign up for the next mini session on Wednesday nights from Nov. 18 to Dec. 16. The cost is $25 for five weeks. Rehearsals run from 7:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.
“The last thing we want is to give anyone a case of Zoom fatigue. Virtual rehearsals are an hour long, instead of the usual 90 minutes, but people can stick around afterwards to catch up if they want. It’s a nice way to connect and touch base,” says Daphne Freeman, GCS marketing director.
Guelph Community Singers has already seen substantial interest from people looking for something fun to try as the days get shorter, the nights grow colder, and opportunities to socialize disappear. Kim Gould, the choir’s membership coordinator, has seen requests flood in, not only from those living in Guelph, but from other communities and even other provinces.
“As many other arts organizations have discovered, virtual meeting software has created new ways to be more inclusive,” she explains. “Singing music together as a group already breaks down barriers between people. But virtual rehearsals shatter geographic barriers too.”
At least one additional five-week session is planned for 2021.
For more information, or to join Guelph Community Singers, visit www.guelphcommunitysingers.ca