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Moose Jaw Community Choir has joyful reunion in new venue

After a 19-month hiatus the Moose Jaw Community Choir is back to regular Monday 7pm practices at Emmanuel Lutheran Church

After a 19-month hiatus the Moose Jaw Community Choir is back to regular Monday 7pm practices at Emmanuel Lutheran Church.

There were three tables set up in the lobby of Emmanuel Lutheran Church at 15 Paul Drive last night for the reunion of the Moose Jaw Community Choir. The first table carefully checked off each person arriving for practice to be certain they were double-vaccinated against Covid-19, after which new and returning members paid their membership fee and signed their names on the choir contact list. The community choir’s organizing committee ran the tables and greeted those arriving with a highly contagious happiness.

Practice did not quite start on time due to the many greetings of returning choir members, most of whom had not seen each other since the choir was forced to cancel its last performance. There were nearly 80 members before the pandemic struck, and choir director Diane Rhodes said she had no idea how many would come back. 

“We don’t know how many will be here. We’re going to be excluding some, because of the requirement of double vaccinations,” Rhodes explained. “We have to, we really do. We want people to feel comfortable, and to not feel like they’re risking their health by being here.”

Following the guidelines of the Saskatchewan Choral Federation, everyone will remain masked throughout the practice. A one-metre distance is maintained in seating, and practices will be limited to one hour for now.

As they found their seats, everyone was chatting, and the feeling was unanimous that it didn’t matter in the slightest what they sounded like. They were all happy simply to be back at it at last. 

“Our real goal is just to enjoy it, there’s no competing, there’s no auditions. The idea is total enjoyment,” Rhodes says firmly.

As practice started (beginning with “Peace Song/We Shall Overcome”), Rhodes took a moment to express gratitude for the venue, noting that Emmanuel Lutheran Church has asked for nothing in return, even offering a place for the choir to store their music sheets between practices. The MJ Community Choir is not religiously affiliated, although there are some religious songs in their repertoire, and they will begin practicing Christmas songs in November.

Practices usually run for an hour and a half, and the fall session will end around mid-December. The choir has no current plans for a public performance, focusing for now on building back their community and enjoying each other’s company. Despite some misgivings, the first practice was attended by 40+, and the masks they all wore had no apparent effect on their sound.

They are always looking for new members, especially tenors and basses, and no audition is required. The choir is also very welcoming of those who have never tried singing before.

Inquiries about membership can be sent to Choir Director Diane Rhodes at (306) 640-8098, rhodes_diane@hotmail.com, or by sending a message through the choir’s Facebook page.