The show must go on

How the choir program held a safe Winter Concert in the middle of the pandemic

Sarah Brager, editor, photographer

COVID-19 brings many obstacles for student organizations, especially those that thrive off of in-person engagement and collaboration. The arts have taken a notable hit this year because performing for an audience is currently off the table. Choir Director Charles Flores has faced great challenges running a program that typically runs on social interaction in the midst of the pandemic. 

It is hard to imagine a choir rehearsal without all of the singers in one room, but Flores had to get creative to keep the program on its feet. During class rehearsals, virtual students tune in on Zoom to run through music with the in-person students, but their mics remain off. Flores also creates multimedia assignments for his at-home learners so that they can record their progress. 

“Balancing all of the extra work that has come with teaching students in-person and at home and looking after my own family has been my biggest challenge. My children are learning both in-person and online, and my wife is juggling work at home and in-person. I am in the process of overcoming this challenge – of getting up each time I fall,” Flores said.

Student Director and senior Sophie Anderson, who participates in both choir and band, speaks to the difficulties fine arts programs have faced this year. 

“Fine arts is really not something that can be done online. You can’t exactly sing over Zoom with all of the sound delays, and it can be difficult to sing with a mask when we meet in person. Despite this, I feel we have made our best effort to maintain our choir, and we still get to enjoy the music,” Anderson said. 

At first, it seemed like the program’s traditional Winter Concert was out of the question; however, with help from the team at the PAC, Flores found a way to make it work. Instead of performing for a live audience, the choirs took turns recording their songs so that families may listen safely at home. Students were spaced out on stage according to CDC guidelines, and special “singers’ masks” were worn at all times. The recording process ran smoothly for the choir, however, something felt off for the performers.

“Singing without an audience feels completely different. It is our goal as a choir to touch someone’s with a performance that has a beautiful moment. While we are lucky to have the possibility of putting songs together via technology, it will not take the place of having a live audience,” student teacher Kelly Danley said. 

Through trial and error, Flores has an efficient system going for the spring semester. While performances likely will not look “normal” for the rest of this school year, he is not letting that stand in the way of the success of the choir program. 

“Performing is a personal experience and even more so for singers because they bring the full force of their experience and expression by way of their own voices,” Flores said.

The Winter Concert can be accessed on YouTube until 11:59 pm on Sun. Dec. 20. Flores asks that the video not be shared on any platform for copyright purposes.