It was one year ago, Sunday, March 8, 2020, the second Sunday of Lent, that the choir of First Congregational Church gathered in the sanctuary to sing the second movement of Haydn’s Seven Last Words. Sadly, it was our last Sunday together, in person. We never finished that beautiful cantata, but despite missing one another and the joy of making music together, we have sustained the strength of our community by meeting regularly on Zoom.
But this coming week we have a rare opportunity to actually sing together. On Thursday, March 18, the choir will gather in the parking lot of Medford High School, parked in a double arc configuration, rehearsing together in a new and creative way. Last October, Lynne Rahmeier kindly sent me an article from the New York Times (https://www.nytimes.com/2020/10/07/arts/music/coronavirus-choir.html), and I jumped at the possibility of joining the Driveway Choir movement!
What is the Driveway Choir? Choral singing has really suffered during the pandemic, because it involves substantive groups of people singing inside, seated or standing close together (to hear one another) in often poorly ventilated spaces. But Kathryn and Bryce Denney of Marlborough, MA found a way around this problem. The Driveway Choir provides a safe way to sing together, with no latency, using audio gear, individual microphones, and an FM radio station. The Denneys have @30 sterilized microphones, one for each singer. Others can also attend the event, tune into the FM radio station, listen and sing along, but not be amplified through the sound system. Each singer remains in their car, windows up, watching me conduct through their windshield. Jeffrey will be with me on an electric keyboard. AND WE ALL HEAR EACH OTHER and make music together – simultaneously. We will be using the time to visit some of our favorite FCC anthems: Come Dwell in Solomon’s Walls, This Is the New Day, Marchin’ to Zion. A moment of strange but beautiful normalcy.
I want to thank Jenn Richter for agreeing to accompany us on this adventure. Jenn will be photographing the event for the church so that we have documentation of the project. It is important to thank masterminds Kathryn and Bryce Denney, who refuse to take any money for their project, including the sound system, microphones, keyboard, podiums, recording equipment, mixing boards, etc. Our Driveway Choir rehearsal will be recorded. We hope to capture one of our beloved anthems in the course of the rehearsal. Thank you, Lynne, for setting me on the Driveway Choir path! Stay tuned!