Community Choir Gets in Tune with Virtual Times

The+Misericordia+Community+Choir+performs+a+song+during+their+winter+concert.

Courtesy of Matthew Rupcich/Misericordia Community Choir

The Misericordia Community Choir performs a song during their winter concert.

Connor Cusick, Reporter

Members of the Community Choir are adapting to a new virtual environment.

Matthew Rupcich, Director, said the COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way the choir rehearses and performs in more ways than one. In addition to having all rehearsals over Zoom, he said that singers have to take extra precautions to protect each other.

“Singers are considered super spreaders,” he said. “Since singers breathe deeply and expel air rapidly, many aerosols are released into the air. Since COVID is mostly a respiratory disease, singing with others and singing in a concert with an audience is not possible at this time.”

The choir, which is made up of students, faculty, staff, alumni, and local community members, has managed to sing together despite restrictions.

Rupcich said rehearsing over Zoom, though, has made practice look different. Because the synchronization of voices is not possible over the internet, he said members sing with their microphones muted so they can practice individually.

Matthew Rupcich, Director of the Community Choir, conducts the group in song.

To make the final product, Rupcich then asks members to send him recordings, which he critiques. After each vocalist submits a second recording with his suggestions applied, he uses a music sequencing program to compile the recordings into one master recording that is shared among the group.

He said while it has taken some time to adjust to, he and the choir members are happy to still be meeting and making music together.

Evelyn Kersey, local community and choir member, said while she is grateful to have rehearsals, doing them virtually doesn’t compare to being in person.

“Obviously, we are missing the in-person experience of singing together,” she said. “We can’t hear each other and recording our individual parts for a virtual concert can be frustrating.”

She said there has been an opportunity for her and the other singers to improve on their skills, however.

“We really have to listen to ourselves without the benefit of having other singers around us, and it makes us more cognizant of what we are doing and how we sound,” Kersey said.

Kersey said the new format has allowed her to socialize more with members from other sections, and that was “a real plus.”

“We are getting to know one another in ways we never did when we were in person. During every Zoom rehearsal, we have time to socialize, talking about the music we’re singing and talking about ourselves. I’ve met people in other sections—alto, bass, tenor—and that didn’t happen as much when we were together, ensconced in our own sections,” she said.

The members are using this team-building and rehearsal time to gear up for the next event, scheduled at the end of the semester, Rupcich said.

Pianist Pamela Zaremba accompanies the members of the choir as they sing traditional Christmas songs. (Courtesy of Matthew Rupcich/Misericordia Community Choir)

“It is our hope that the choir will release, for public viewing, a new single virtual recording mixed and edited by a sound engineer,” he said.

Kersey is looking forward to this event and seeing the singers’ dedication pay off. She also said she can’t wait for the time when everyone can safely be together again.

“While not as satisfying as being together, this virtual experience still permits us to sing,” she said. “I know we will all appreciate it so much more, the time when we can be together in person. I’m looking forward to it.”

Rupcich encourages more people to join the choir, especially if they are looking for a way to connect with others and express themselves.

“For some it is a creative outlet. Others may join for the opportunity to be expressive with others. Students join because they see the potential of doing something very special with others,” Rupcich said. “Many different people come together with various life experiences and skill sets and work towards a common goal: a musical experience. Singing in a choir is a powerful experience. Teamwork is at play in every rehearsal and performance.”

The Community Choir meets every Thursday at 6 p.m. via Zoom. Anyone interested in joining the choir can contact Rupcich at [email protected]