The Choir Is Back

A choir on stage
The choir performing during a show in 2019. Photo: Courtesy of the Whitehorse Community Choir

The Whitehorse Community Choir’s annual Christmas shows are happening December 2 and 3, and this year they won’t be scaled down due to pandemic restrictions.

The last couple of years have been strange for the Whitehorse Community Choir. While they were still able to stage some of their performances, pandemic-related restrictions saw many changes in the rehearsals and the shows themselves, including limitations in group sizes, physical-distancing measures, and even masking. Now, as the holiday season approaches, so does the choir’s annual Christmas show. This year’s set of performances, dubbed Sing Joy, will mark the choir’s first unrestricted shows since before the pandemic.

“It was a lot of changes to go into the whole Covid thing, and that was different every term, really,” Whitehorse Community Choir director Barbara Chamberlain told What’s Up Yukon. “It’s just another difference that it’s happening now, so that’s what’s interesting about it.”

It was a great moment when the choir was finally able to come together, as 60-some people, in a room together for a rehearsal again, and Chamberlain said the positive energy in the room was infectious. The choir provides a sense of community to many of its singers who felt their lives lacked that during the heavily restricted seasons.

“People were just really excited to be there,” said Chamberlain. “It’s something we just hadn’t seen for a while.”

To Chamberlain, Sing Joy is a broad interpretation of what Christmas and the holiday season can mean to different members of the community, and she’s curated a mixed bag of songs for the shows, with different themes, ideas, genres and eras all finding their way into the set, which features everything from Beethoven to Billy Joel. Some of the songs, like Beethoven’s “Ode to Joy,” are holdovers from shows that were shelved during the pandemic.

“It was sad not to be able to finish those songs because we had most of the notes learned and were getting ready to gear up for the concerts,” said Chamberlain. “For me, it was a big loss, and I think it was for the singers too, so it’s really nice to get these back and to do them.”

Other selections from Sing Joy include the Christmas classic “Deck the Halls” and the “Hallelujah Chorus” from Handel’s Messiah, sung by the big choir; Tchaikovsky’s “Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy” from The Nutcracker; “Winter Song” by Ingrid Michaelson and Sarah Bareiles, sung by The Persephones (the women’s choir); the Middle Ages hymn “Ave Maris Stella;” and Billy Joel’s “And So it Goes,” sung by the Chamber Choir.

This is far from all, and one of the songs will involve a flash-mob-style display, but What’s Up Yukon is not at liberty to share which selection that is—those curious will have to come out and see.

“I’ve always wanted to do something in a foyer,” said Chamberlain of the flash-mob performance. “I just wanted to do something different. Our concerts are always the same format, except for the last few years, but when I picked this out, two and a half years ago, I didn’t know everything was going to change.”

Sing Joy’s two nights are December 3 and 4, and the shows will take place at the Yukon Arts Centre, each evening, at 7:30 p.m. Directed by Chamberlain, the show also features accompaniment by Barry Kitchen and Cheryl Wishart, plus The Whitehorse Classical Students who are directed by Katie Avery and joined by Rachel Grantham, Stephanie Johnson and Jon Heaton. Tickets can be purchased for $25 at yukontickets.com.

“It’s a very exciting, dynamic show with a mix of old, new and eclectic,” said Chamberlain. “There’s stunningly beautiful music in it. I think it will be a very exciting program.”

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