It’s no ordinary year, but 2020 must be seen off nonetheless, while 2021 is welcomed in.
The volunteer committee behind the New Year’s Eve Concerts in the Historic Downtown Churches has followed the lead of countless other event organizers in moving the 29th annual edition of the concert series to the internet.
As COVID-19 has again closed area churches to the public, performances from a dozen acts will be available for viewing on YouTube, starting live at 7 p.m. on New Year’s Eve. People can find the event here.
While the three-hour show won’t last all the way to the midnight countdown, it aims to capture the spirit of the event in which people traditionally stroll from church to church downtown to take in a variety of performances.
“In some ways it’s a treat. We can have our glass of grog and sit by the fire and watch the show,” said Denise Bowes, one of the committee members.
She credits Rebecca Bredin, of Bredin Digital, for putting the virtual show together.
“We would not have been able to do this without her expertise,” said Bowes.
The performers this year are: The Brenda Kelly and Ralph Robinson band (traditional country); Natalie Edwards (popular vocal); youth concert appearances by Oscar Arkeveld (vocal), Andreas and Christopher Arzoumanian (piano) and Olivia Allen (piano); UOther2: Pam Foster and Donald Wachenschwanz (rock, pop and folk); Pat Johnson (original blues and folk); Dublin Road (traditional Irish); Michael Fenn (classical vocal); Iron Ring Trio (folk/rock); Quintessence (clarinet quintet); Matthew O’Halloran (jazz); the First Presbyterian Church Handbell Choir; and CR5 (bluegrass).
Bowes said some of the churches usually involved with the concerts were able to open up to allow some of the numbers to be recorded there.
Other performers recorded in different venues. For instance, Matthew O’Halloran and fellow members of his jazz quartet recorded their segment at a makeshift home studio in Ottawa, all wearing masks and properly distant, and using the video function on an iPhone.
O’Halloran said the resulting sound is pretty good, considering the technology and locale.
“I’m looking forward to watching the concert myself,” he added.
The video was made possible by a funding from the Brockville and District Chamber of Commerce, thanks to a grant from FedDev Ontario.
Chamber executive director Pamela Robertson said the effort will include a $100 donation to each of the usually participating churches, allowing them to donate to a charity of their choice, as they have done in usual years with freewill donations from the audience.
Bredin, who until recently worked in the chamber’s Brockville Tourism office, had to put together a video with material shot using different devices.
“The hard part was making sure that we had a consistent vision and sound through the whole thing,” she said.
Performers ended up providing about roughly 10 minutes each of material, in most cases, she added.
“Everyone did such a good job.”
And while the show won’t carry viewers straight to the calendar change, it will still keep to tradition in other respects.
“We do end with Auld Lang Syne, but we don’t end with a countdown,” said Bredin.
The show will also be available on YouTube after the live broadcast. People can keep tabs on Facebook at www.facebook.com/BrockvilleNYEChurchConcerts/.