Acclaimed London choir goes to drive-in format for upcoming production
LONDON, ONT. -- The renowned Amabile Choir in London, Ont. got creative to bring its members back together for the first time in eight months.
"Who would have thought signing would be such a dangerous activity," says Dr. Carol Beynon, senior artistic director for the Amabile Boy's and Men's Choir.
The group had been working through Zoom calls but Beynon said it is tough for her singers to not be able to hear each other.
So instead, the group met in AB Lucas Secondary School's parking lot, and the performers did a 'Drive-In' recording session in their cars for their upcoming Remembrance Day production.
It will be the third release since the start of the pandemic, but each one has required dozens of hours of post-production.
"Everyone would record their tracks on their phone, and send them to me," says Mark Payne, of HOP Studios.
"I would take 50-60 videos, compile them into one video, and make them look like they are all in the screen together."
This new format allows him to use two 24-person sessions and then mix all 48 tracks together.
The choir, which ranges from doctors and lawyers to grade nine students is doing a 60-minute digital video production that will be streamed from Nov. 8-14.
"It is called 'Service, Sacrifice and a Soldier Bear named Winnie'," says Beynon, who conducted the session from the back of a pickup truck.
"It's the story of Winnipeg Bear who later became Winnie the Pooh and the story of World War 1."
The performers would typically have been gathering every Tuesday night to sing. They say they've missed the comradery, but did not want to have their favourite show of the year cancelled.
"Remembrance Day is my favourite performance," says Owen Poel, a choir singer.
"Normally we are at St. Peter's Cathedral Basilica downtown. The songs we are signing lend themselves to our kind of music and this group, so it's nice to re-connect for this concert in particular.
Matthew Pironadgi, 17, has been longing to sing with his fellow choir members, and was thankful this show could go ahead.
"It's such a staple of our choir," says Pironadgi.
"It's always one of our favourite concerts to perform and I'm just ecstatic that we can do this."
Beynon initially saw a small choir in Western Canada bring its members together in their cars, similar to what churches did at the beginning of the pandemic.
Payne told her let's make it happen immediately.
"We know we won't be getting together until the new year," says Payne.
"We have a Christmas piece coming up, and after how well this went, I think we will do this again."
Beynon says it's been difficult to be apart, but was so thrilled to see smiling faces, even if they were through tinted windows.
"The arts are what keep us alive during these hard times."