Christmas concert returns in COVID format

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People are being asked to give up a lot of things this Christmas, but music need not be one of them.


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The annual Community Christmas concert takes place Saturday and Sunday, livestreamed online from St. John’s United Church.

“This year it’s obviously scaled down because of COVID, a smaller group of people,” said tenor Chris Coyea, who will join four other singers for this year’s concert.

The show is put on by the Upper Canada Musicians Association and the Music Performance Trust Fund.

The concert runs at 7 p.m. Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday.

The initial plan was to allow limited seating at the church, with 40 spectators per show admitted free, but earlier this week the musicians’ association decided to cancel the live seating portion, meaning it will all be online.

“We have struggled with this decision and it hasn’t come lightly,” the local musicians’ association wrote on Facebook.

“With the recent uptick in cases in our community it just wouldn’t be prudent to have an audience at this time. We want everyone to be safe and enjoy our program from the safety of your homes.”

The two shows will be live-streamed on the Music Performance Trust Fund Facebook page. People can also find it on YouTube, both for the Saturday evening show and for Sunday afternoon. Each of those videos goes live 15 minutes ahead of the start time.

This year’s concert will feature Coyea, Alex Fleuriau Chateau, Sue Baker, Margaret Whisselle, and Lee Anne Frederickson, with MC Bruce Wylie and a special appearance by Santa Claus.

They’ll be joined by a seven-piece orchestra. The singers will be behind Plexiglas panels.

It’s a significantly reduced stage presence compared to an ordinary year.

“We had to scale it back just so that we could be safe,” said Coyea.

The idea of carrying on with the concert, despite the pandemic’s crushing impact on live performance, grew out of the livestreamed Monday night concert series at the downtown church run by Al Torrance in the fall, said Coyea.

The show will run for an hour and 20 minutes and feature “something for the youngest to the oldest,” said Coyea.

“I just think it’s going to be something that everybody needs right now,” he added.

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