The Peterborough Singers perform moving virtual version of ‘Bridge Over Troubled Water’

100-voice choir has had to reinvent its 2020-21 season due to the COVID-19 pandemic

The Peterborough Singers, led by founder and conductor Syd Birrell (pictured), is reinventing its 2020-21 season as a "bridge year". The COVID-19 pandemic has forced the 100-voice choir to cancel its in-person concerts, so choir members are now coming together in small COVID-safe groups so they can continue to enjoy choral singing. Some of the performances may be released online, along with virtual choir performances such as the choir's version of the Simon & Garfunkel song "Bridge Over Trouble Water". (Photo: Jason Ryan)
The Peterborough Singers, led by founder and conductor Syd Birrell (pictured), is reinventing its 2020-21 season as a "bridge year". The COVID-19 pandemic has forced the 100-voice choir to cancel its in-person concerts, so choir members are now coming together in small COVID-safe groups so they can continue to enjoy choral singing. Some of the performances may be released online, along with virtual choir performances such as the choir's version of the Simon & Garfunkel song "Bridge Over Trouble Water". (Photo: Jason Ryan)

The Peterborough Singers have just released another video performing as a virtual choir, this time a moving version of Paul Simon’s iconic 1970 tune “Bridge Over Troubled Water”.

The choir’s selection of the Simon & Garfunkel song is symbolic given the COVID-19 pandemic, which has forced the choir to cancel its concerts. The 100-voice choir, led by founder and conductor Syd Birrell, has had to reinvent its 2020-21 season as a “bridge year” until audiences can once again enjoy the choir’s performances in person.

In the past four months, the choir has held rehearsals using the Zoom video-conferencing platform, and created other virtual performances including the Tragically Hip song “Bobcaygeon”.

The choir recorded that performance in April in support of Pinecrest Nursing Home in Bobcaygeon, which saw a large number of its residents die as a result of COVID-19.

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As well, the organization formed a COVID-19 recovery committee to explore the option of safe small-group singing, the results of which are posted on the Choirs Ontario website.

The choir decided that, rather than risk disappointing both choir and audience members by announcing a typical concert season only to face likely cancellation, it would take a different approach.

As a result, choir members have been coming together in small groups (observing all COVID-19 safety protocols) to sing a variety of repertoire, from madrigals and Broadway to opera choruses and music of the Renaissance.

VIDEO: “Bridge Over Troubled Water” performed by members of the Peterborough Singers

“Some of these sessions may find a digital home for audience enjoyment, but the primary consideration is the emotional well-being of choir members,” states a media release from The Peterborough Singers. “That and ensuring the 27-year history of the Peterborough Singers continues in the future.”

As soon as the pandemic situation allows it, the Peterborough Singers will resume in-person concerts.

“The choir looks forward, when the time is right, to continuing its tradition of presenting top soloists (past performers include Daniel Taylor, Isabel Bayrakdarian, Benjamin Butterfield, Suzie LeBlanc, Brett Polegato, and Measha Brueggergosman) and commissioning works by Canadian composers (past commissions include music by Serouj Kradjian, Len Ballantine, Paul Halley, and Mark Sirett).”

“As well, beloved Peterborough Singers’ traditions such the annual performance of Handel’s Messiah will return.”

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