It was easy for the angels to sing about the birth of Jesus. They were not facing a pandemic.
This has not been the case in 2020, with COVID-19 and the resulting social distancing having made it reckless, if not impossible, to assemble a choir for a musical celebration of the season. And yet, Brenda Kostial has found a way.
The final product of his inspiration can be heard on the Holy Spirit Parish website by clicking on Advent Blessings from the Holy Spirit Choir. The haunting seven minute video of the Christmas song and visuals is all one would expect from a church choir.
Except for the choir.
Unable to come together for rehearsals or a performance, the choir members instead recorded their individual parts separately, and the recordings were sent to be compiled and edited into a merged presentation.
âWe have seen these virtual choirs on the Internet. It seemed too technical to me, but with a little help from someone doing the editing we managed to do it. ‘â
The choir’s first production was recorded and released in September, Kostial said, with just a dozen singers. When she decided the inaugural effort was a success, she expanded to 23 credited singers and three musicians, including herself, for the Advent performance.
After selecting the music, Kostial made a basic recording, to which the recording of all other performers should match. Copies of this basic recording were then provided to each singer.
âWe thought everyone recording in the same space would be a good idea, besides not being together we would need to practice a bit,â Kostial said. âSo I would have socially distanced the practice individually with each person and then they recorded. “
The recordings were sent to Ian Andrews, a resident of Medina, Ohio, who is a friend of one of the parish choir members. Andrews, who could not be reached for comment, would then merge them digitally.
âIt’s a painstaking process where he lines it up, beat by beat, to make sure everything is in sync,â Kostial said. âOnce the sound came together, we added images, and it turned out very nice. “
Visuals accompanying the music include traditional Christmas images interspersed with passages from scripture and fleeting photos of the singers themselves.
The video is only one of the many parish achievements recounted in a five-page document provided to parishioners by Jean Pascal, administrative facilitator of the parish. Entitled “The Good News of 2020”, the list reminds the faithful that parish life has found a way to continue, despite the restrictions of the pandemic.
âWhen we started to write things down, we were shocked that we could do as much as we did,â Pascal said. “It’s very heartwarming that people got up for the plate and followed as they did.”
Kostial said more Christmas videos are in the works, one with the choir and a second featuring a brass ensemble performing Christmas carols. She and the performers are also set to continue in 2021.
âIt’s one way to use our talents,â she said. âIf things continue like this, which seems to be the case, maybe we can do one for Lent and Easter.
“After that, we hope that this will all go away, as we would much rather do it in person.”