Christmas with the Choir: COVID-19 restrictions mean an online (but still joyful!) holiday concert this year

The Whitehorse Community Choir is back with a new show, “Tidings and Tinsel,” for the 2021 season, albeit online only.

The group had initially hoped they’d be able to perform live this year, and had planned several shows at the Yukon Arts Centre, but unfortunately  the recent surge in COVID-19 cases in the territory and the return to a state of emergency made that impossible.

Disappointed but undaunted, the choir quickly switched gears, and the company will now be recording one show with all three choir groups in it.

The three choir groups who will be performing are each made up of 20 singers, and each group will enter from one side of the stage and exit from another to ensure that the groups are not able to mingle between sets. Usually, there is no limit to how many people can participate in the community choir, but this season, registration was full within three days due to the limited number of people allowed in.

Despite still being under restrictions, director Barbara Chamberlain said the singers have been happy to be able to get together and sing together. They are all looking forward to presenting a variety of material again. Masking and physical distancing are still requirements within the choir as well.

“It’s really nice to be able to sing together and everyone’s loving that,” said Chamberlain. “But we still have to wear masks and it’s hard to take a breath, even if we’re using our choir masks.”

The rehearsal season for the Christmas concert hasn’t been without its difficulties either. Some singers have had to miss rehearsals to isolate after coming into contact with people infected with COVID-19. One member, a doctor, even contracted the virus himself. Luckily, by taking strict safety precautions and cancelling rehearsals when needed, the choir has been able to continue on.

“Any time anyone is sick, they don’t come,” said Chamberlain.

Some of the song selections for “Tidings and Tinsel” include Christmas songs such as “Seven Joys of Mary” and “Christmas in Carrick,” which will be sung by the Women’s Choir. Also performing will be the SATB Choir and SATB Advanced Choir, who will also be performing Christmas songs, both lesser-known and more popular ones.

Chamberlain has a general rule that she doesn’t like to repeat songs at Christmas concerts within a five-year period. Selecting the songs for this year’s shows was tricky, as a limited budget meant Chamberlain had to pick most of the selections out of the library the choir already had.

“You want a variety,” she said. “We’re just trying to keep things upbeat here too, so I picked mostly stuff that was upbeat. There’s three slow songs in the whole thing and that’s it.”

The performances will be directed by Chamberlain, and the choirs will be accompanied by musicians Barry Kitchen and Andy Slade.

“Tidings and Tinsel” will be presented via video by the Whitehorse Community Choir from Dec. 4 to Dec 16. Tickets are pay-what-you-like and can be purchased at

To keep up with the Whitehorse Community Choir, visit

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