Members of Surrey-based Westcoast Harmony Chorus spent close to three months creating a virtual song and video that aims to lift spirits during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Their new “Go the Distance” number features 56 singers, including seven new members who rehearsed, recorded, qualified and submitted solely online since October.
The Anne Downton-directed chorus last held an in-person rehearsal back in March at Parkland Baptist Church, at 96th Avenue and 160th Street in Surrey. Since then, rehearsals have been conducted on the Zoom conference platform.
The video for “Go the Distance,” from the Disney film Hercules, was edited by Erica Yan, with audio editing by Downton.
Chorus members are shown in “Zoom” chat mode and also working out, going for walks, at work and doing other regular-life things.
The video starts with these words: “To all our friends near and far, for the front-line workers who have sacrificed so much, to those who may be feeling lost and alone, who miss family, friends and regular routines, to those who miss singing with others, for those who dare to dream of a bright future, and to those who need a loving hand to lift them up for the next leg of the journey, this is for you.”
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Kelly Collins, the group’s marketing co-ordinator, says the finished video/song is reason to celebrate, and should hit home for a lot of people right now.
“Over the course of the pandemic, being able to stay as active, focused and as strong as we have is definitely something we are proud of,” Collins told the Now-Leader. “We’ve adapted the motto ‘Stronger Together’ (and) even had bracelets made and did door drop-offs to every member, as a daily reminder.”
In the last week of June, West Coast Harmony Chorus singers were featured in an “O Canada Virtual Chorus” video posted to the group’s Youtube page, in a first performance of its kind for the chorus.
Rehearsals on Zoom are quite different from in-person sessions, naturally.
“During the Zoom sessions we try and break up the learning, with smaller breakout rooms – ‘classes’ so to speak, as well as always having an option for some fun/social time,” Collins explained.
“The bulk of the rehearsal is diving in-depth to the music/song we are working on. These past three months, the primary focus was ‘Go the Distance.’ We’ve brought in coaches (via Zoom), celebrated milestones, holidays as well as welcomed in new members, all while being 100 per cent virtual. We are actively seeking new members to join. There is an audition process just like being at our live rehearsals.”
For membership inquiries, visit westcoastsings.com.
The chorus has no plan to return to in-person rehearsals anytime soon, according to Collins.
“We are hopeful for sometime this year, depending (on) vaccine, spread and state of the pandemic,” she noted. “It’s definitely been hard, almost a year, however our online rehearsals still continue, with (an average of) over 50 of our active members weekly.”
• RELATED STORY, from 2019: An ‘Unforgettable’ experience, in song: Surrey choir revives ‘Valentine-o-Grams’ as fundraiser.