FBCH Joins in a Virtual Choir: a Story of Community

FBCH Joins in a Virtual Choir: a Story of Community

This is a story of community, and how with meaningful connection we can rise above all challenges.

First Baptist Halifax’s choir is a community within our broader church community. As in all walks of life, pandemic measures kept us physically apart for months on end, but Lynette did not let that prevent us from coming together in other ways.

Every week on Zoom, we shared stories of what was going on in our lives and made music together from our kitchen tables. 

Just over a year ago, our incredibly creative and supportive choir director and organist presented us with a wonderful opportunity to join two choirs from other provinces for a collaborative recording. 

We were excited about the prospect, though getting there meant a lot of work for Lynette given COVID protocols meant we would each have to record our parts separately. The challenge just made it even more exciting for us!

So more than a year ago we got to work as our counterparts at The Confederation Singers in Charlottetown and Lawrence Park Community Church in Toronto did the same. Mark Toews was the music director and Paul Winkelmans is the interim director at Lawrence Park. Don Fraser, organist and choir director at Trinity-Clifton United Church in Charlottetown and Director of Choral Music at the Confederation Centre of the Arts, lead the project. 

“This recording project was one of my first forays into the world of technology,” Lynette said. “I want to thank software engineer William Crowdis and Don Fraser for setting us up with the tools to share our music. It was so important for me as Music Director to connect with FBCH choir members individually during the pandemic; they are an incredible community with a collective panache, shared by the joy of singing.”

The selection for this recording was Norwegian composer Ola Gjeilo’s The Ground. It’s based on a chorale motif from the last movement of his Sunrise Mass. He writes on his website that the movement is the culmination of the Mass, “and it’s called The Ground because I wanted to convey a sense of having ‘arrived’ at the end of the Mass ; to have reached a  kind of peace and grounded strength, after the long journey of the Mass, having gone through so many different emotional landscapes.”

Don sent us guide tracks so that we could each practice our own part at home, then our choir as a whole sang together virtually each week, ensuring every detail was consistent with the other choirs – including pronouncing Excelsis as egg-shell-sis. 

We have wonderful recording devices at FBC and Lynette, a technological wizard in her own right, established a makeshift recording studio in the parlour with William’s support. White sheets were hung to create a cubicle that contained an iPad with our music and an iPhone for the video recording. Lynette was safely distanced on the other side of the equipment in the choir room where she made the individual recordings.

She sent our recordings via Google Drive to Don, who carefully blended the voices and made a video with still photos of the choir members singing their recordings. 

We were thrilled to receive the final version this week! It’s a true reflection of community and shows the richness music brings to our lives. “For me personally, this project was a beautiful avenue for my skills in music and worship,” Lynette said.

This recording makes our hearts happy, and we hope it does your’s too. With the pall of world events, at no time is the message of The Ground more uplifting.

Dona nobis pacem – Grant us peace.

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