By Tamami Honma, Choir Director – St. Simon Parish
St Simon’s Parish is blessed with open-hearted planning committees that have been willing to embrace new ideas to help hold our community together in this difficult time of enforced social isolation. When the possibility loomed that the county order would extend into Easter, some of us felt the importance of continuing to engage our choirs to help our community celebrate this important time in a joyful way. Out of the desire to keep some traditions going, the idea was born of making a video presentation for all parishioners to enjoy.
Our Easter Day begins each year with “Join in the Dance,” and we thought it may give comfort for people to know that we were still there, and to see and hear something familiar. While we could not wave ribbons and skip into the church in person, with the magic of technology, we were determined to do the next best thing.
Having been involved in video projects with other groups beyond our parish, most notably the Cal Arte Chamber Orchestra and the San Jose Symphonic Choir, gave me confidence to move forward. However, this was the first time we had attempted to assemble an entire choir and orchestra on video from individual tracks, each recorded from home. Inspired by seeing others doing audio-only projects like this on YouTube, our stalwart friends and volunteers Jurgen Krenkhe, Julian Brown, Jenn Perkins, and I set ourselves to the task.
The plan was ambitious but worth the effort: We were to create a video of “Join in the Dance,” by Dan Schutte, with the lovely voices of our children’s choir. Each member of our Grades 2-8 choir, “Joyful Noise,” was excited to participate, and they recorded their contributions at home because of the current Shelter-at-Home restrictions. Putting together such a video requires quite a bit of collaboration, especially because you need everyone’s involvement. However, the bulk of the work comes in organizing everyone to sing along to the same recording and in editing everyone’s contributions together into a harmonious whole. We did it!
With the permission of our Pastor, Father Warwick James, and Liturgist Suzanne Fitzgerald, and the assistance of Tim Petersen’s Audio-Visual skills, our video was incorporated into the Easter Mass as a prelude. The children were so excited to see the result and received much positive feedback from parishioners. If you’d like to see what our “Joyful Noise” performed, you can watch our video of “Join in the Dance.”
It was gratifying to witness the children becoming aware of how their song could bring joy by reaching out and connecting our community, albeit in a new way. Now, both the children and the adult choirs are already working on new video presentations of songs. While there is nothing comparable to sharing a live experience, music can still be powerfully evocative and spiritually enriching no matter what form it takes.