Typically, the Cellar Singers would be gearing up for their biggest concert of the year right now, but the COVID-19 pandemic has sidelined the group's performances since Feb. 29.
The Cellar Singers were able to perform only one of their four major concerts before the pandemic put a halt to rehearsals and performances in March. The choir is in its 53rd season and it draws membership and an audience from all over Simcoe County and Muskoka.
Rebecca Campbell, chair of the board for the Cellar Singers, said choir members have been meeting online using Zoom during the pandemic.
“We would talk about how everyone was managing ... We were just trying to encourage each other,” she said.
“Choir is really a unique bonding experience. Some of our members have sung in this choir for over 30 years.”
During the summer, the choir met in person for a socially distanced picnic, but other than that, they have not met in person during the pandemic.
Board members decided to meet every Wednesday on Zoom for what they call the “how to choir.”
“The purpose of meeting together online is for the intellectual stimulation of talking about and studying music together,” Campbell said.
“We are working on our choral skills and musicianship, and we are studying a major work that we were intending on performing this year.”
Of the 40 members of the choir, 25 are joining the online sessions. However, the group is missing the 15 members who chose not to participate.
“Some people are not as comfortable with the virtual experience. People have had to learn how to do it and we’ve been helping each other out with that,” Campbell said.
“Some people are doing a lot of work from home, using electronic media for virtual meetings, so working on Zoom is something they would rather not do right now," she added.
A major reason for continuing choir activities virtually during the pandemic is to keep the spirit of the choir alive, she said.
“The choir has a long history and we don’t want to see it die.”
Campbell said the pandemic has created a nightmare scenario for conductors and singers at the professional level, but the local choir trying to make the best of a bad situation.
“We are surprisingly having a good time meeting online, but it’s not what we really want to do. We want to sing together, and that’s what it’s all about,” she said.
When the pandemic passes, “we want to come back a better and stronger group of choristers and musicians,” she said.
“We work really hard together, and there is something about joining together to use the human voice as an instrument that touches people who do it together at a very deep, emotional level.”
The Cellar Singers thank the community for their support during the pandemic, and they hope to be performing locally sometime in the new year.
The choir encourages the community to stay informed about its projects and continue to support it through its website, which can be found here.