Along with stretching their vocal chords for the Durango Choral Society, singers are also stretching their technological capabilities to bring music to audiences that have not been able to meet in person since March.
Since DCS shut down on March 12 because of the coronavirus pandemic, the singers have not rehearsed or performed. They’ve also had to cancel numerous events, including the Vivaldi Gloria, a Children’s Choir concert, a trip to Florence for a concert tour, Beethoven’s Ninth with Music in the Mountains and the Women’s Choir celebrating women’s suffrage in the park.
But now a little good news: Durango Choral Society is offering two shows for music-lovers – the first, “Comfort: Songs of Home, Hope and Happiness,” will be released online at 7 p.m. Oct. 9. The DCS said the show will feature solos, highlights of previous performances, the sweet voices of the Children’s Choirs and a new virtual choir presentation by DCS singers.
The second show will arrive in time for the holidays. “Joy! A Traditional Family Christmas” will begin at 3 p.m. Dec. 6 and will also be available through the holiday season.
Both shows are donation-based, with patrons being able to pay anything from $5 to whatever they want, said Linda Mack Berven, director/conductor for DCS.
“We are asking for a donation based on what you are able to give so that your entire household can be treated to our performances,” she said.
Mack Berven said putting together the pieces for “Comfort” was challenging – DCS has about 200 videos of previous performances she has spent the last two months going through to put the program together. The goal, Mack Berven said, is to offer audiences a program that flows nicely, “You want to take the audience on a ride.”
“And in this case, I was not constrained by things like the length of the program, or how do you get the children off the risers, etc. So what I could offer was more of a potpourri of intermingling soloists and choral pieces and children and adults,” she said. “We have pieces ranging from concerts in 2013, I think, all the way through this last season, including March of 2020, which was three days before we were shut down. The audience will be able to watch and listen to some of their favorite soloists singing some of their favorite songs.”
And the virtual element of the show comes in the performance of the song, “I Chose Love,” performed individually by DCS singers and edited together into one piece. It’s a song created by composer Mark Miller.
Looking ahead to 2021, Mack Berven said the hope is to be able to get back in person, but online is an option if safety protocols are still required.
“We have programs ready for that if we have to go online either in March or perhaps later in the spring – I sure hope not,” she said.
And while getting everyone used to using technology such as Zoom meetings and recording has a practical place, Mack Berven said she doesn’t think online concerts can ever replace the real deal of in-person performances.
“I think there’s nothing like being in an audience, and having a chill go up your spine when you hear the wonderful music,” she said. “But we’ve at least learned how to do it – for example, if there’s a snowstorm on a rehearsal night, I can just call them together on Zoom and give them instruction. So I think that having the technology will enhance our methods of communication, but I don’t think it’s going to replace live performance.”