Choirs emerge from pandemic pause

Singers anxious to return to in-person rehearsals and live performances this fall

Members of the Hinsdale Chorale had long anticipated the group's 20th anniversary celebration, which would poetically occur in the spring of 2020. But like so many things in that year, the milestone passed without the fanfare it deserved.

The 20th anniversary concert is one of three that the chorale was forced to cancel while the world sheltered against COVID-19. Longtime member Kristi Freitager said it's by far the longest stretch she's ever endured without singing. But the musical drought came to a long-anticipated end when the choir gathered for an outdoor performance on June 13.

"That was fun," Freitager said. "We all missed the whole process."

Regular Monday evening rehearsals for the Hinsdale Chorale are scheduled to resume on Sept. 13 as the choir prepares for "From Silence to Gloria." The pair of performances, set for Saturday and Sunday, Nov. 27 and 28, will celebrate not only the holiday season ahead, but the world's journey through the pandemic.

Singers interested in joining the choir for its fall return can schedule an audition at Auditions will be held in late August.

As of now, singers will not be required to wear masks, Freitager said. But they will need to be vaccinated.

With all 20 members fully vaccinated, the Jolly Boys men's chorus recently gathered for an outdoor rehearsal - the first in-person practice since early 2020. Members of the Jolly Boys kept their voices working throughout the pandemic with online lessons led by director Vicki Lowczyk. It wasn't the same as a face-to-face rehearsal, member and ensemble President Frank Kobes said, but the Zoom sessions left the group better prepared as rehearsals begin for the fall season.

Kobes said the Jolly Boys plan to resume regular indoor practices in September. Normally held at The Community House, Kobes said they are still waiting to hear whether they will be welcomed back, due to COVID-19 precautions.

"We plan to be together, in person, somewhere," Kobes said.

The group's performance schedule is equally uncertain. December is typically a busy month for the Jolly Boys, with seven or eight performances scheduled throughout the area. But so far, they have only one performance booked for the holiday season.

"Hopefully, we will add a few more," Kobes said.

For years the Downers Grove Choral Society has spent Monday nights rehearsing at the Indian Boundary YMCA. But with the facility's shortened hours due to COVID-19, the group is searching for a new place to practice.

"All of the venues are being finalized now," said choir member Elizabeth Patterson.

After three concerts presented via Zoom, the Choral Society emerged from its extended pandemic pause to perform an outdoor concert in Fishel Park in Downers Grove on May 23. Wearing masks specifically designed for singing and standing six feet apart, the choir presented a program called "Spring Hallelujahs."

The choir is preparing for its fall season by auditioning new members. Anyone interested in an audition is encouraged to visit the choir's website to sign up for a voice hearing on Aug. 23. To ensure everyone's comfort and safety, choir members will have the option to attend rehearsals remotely via Zoom.

As of now, Patterson said, all members are fully vaccinated. While vaccines aren't strictly required of members, they are strongly encouraged. That could change, she said.

"We will follow CDC guidelines," she said. If vaccines, masks or social distancing are recommended, it's the Choral Society's plan to follow the advice.

Author Bio

Sandy Illian Bosch is a contributing writer to The Hinsdalean