Our Vintage Voices program for older adults has joined the virtual world. Conductor Robert Graham is now leading members from the Trillium Woods Chorale and Parkshore Singers in both rehearsals and social gatherings on Zoom every two weeks. These same activities will begin this summer with the Sabathani Vintage Voices, our flagship ensemble of the Vintage Voices program. This is in addition to the Singer Pen Pal initiative where VocalEssence adult singers from the Chorus and Ensemble Singers are trading emails/letters/video calls with our older adults singers in Vintage Voices.
Read Conductor Rob Graham’s descriptions of the first social gathering and first rehearsal below and enjoy the “group hug” photo from the Trillium Woods Chorale social gathering.
“The inaugural social gatherings for the Park Singers and Trillium Woods Chorale were a joy for everyone! At Parkshore, we began each session with the singers sharing a musical greeting to the group, along with their beverage of choice (we called the gathering “Music and Coffee with Rob!”) We sang the first verse of Amazing Grace together, with everyone on “mute”, due to lagging computer and internet speeds that don’t allow the singers to easily stay together in time; then I un-muted everyone, and we sang it twice through as a cacophonous round. They LOVED it, and shared afterward how good it felt to sing together again, despite only being able to hear my voice, and only see each other’s faces.
The singers then shared personal updates about what they’ve been up to. Of course, everyone is eager to return to singing together again in person, but are very understanding of the current reality brought on by COVID-19 and the need to be physically distanced for the time being.
We closed with singing “I’ve Got Peace Like a River” in cacophony, and it was lovely. Then, at the suggestion of one of the singers who used to teach elementary children, she recommended we close with a group laugh-along. One person started, and then it became an energetic ROAR of laughter, with tears running down our faces. It felt so good to sing and laugh together again!
Two weeks later, at the request of the singers to have more singing and less socializing, we launched our first official rehearsal using Zoom. After getting everyone’s cameras and microphones working, we begin with stretching and breathing exercises, and then spent ample time doing vocal warm-ups and exercises, which the singers loved following along to from their living rooms. We then sang “Ive Got Peace Like a River” and reviewed the harmony parts so that singers could choose to harmonize with me singing the melody. After “clearing out the cobwebs” of our instruments, we then spent the rest of rehearsal working on an arrangement of thee old American song, “How Can I Keep from Singing?”, one of the pieces of music that we would have learned and performed in concert this spring, had it not been for COVID-19. The singers enthusiastically agreed that this was a worthwhile experience, and expressed excitement for our next rehearsal. While these rehearsals aren’t necessarily preparing for a culminating “Zoom concert” or in-person event, it is allowing the singers to stay connected socially and musically, and to keep their voices in shape as we continue riding out the pandemic in a safe and healthy way.”