Capital Region

Area choruses firm up plans for holidays

The Skidmore Community Chorus is seen in a file photo.

The Skidmore Community Chorus is seen in a file photo.

Choruses are slowly starting to get together with some scheduling holiday concerts. But the pandemic has made singing together difficult because participation is always determined by each singer’s health on the day of performance. The choruses that are currently working (or thinking about it) are listed.

Albany Pro-Musica
This chorus, under director Jose Daniel Flores-Caraballo, has already begun its season (Oct. 24) with full participation. Their holiday concert is set for Dec. 19 at the Troy Savings Bank Music Hall with “The Many Moods of Christmas.”
Also scheduled are a March 6 concert with Rachmaninoff’s music and May 8 with Brahms ’ “Ein deutsches Requiem.”

Hudson-Mohawk Chorale
The chorus started rehearsals Sept. 28 but director Sue Fedak said that will continue as long as Covid-19 percentages remain low. A Jan. 23 concert is planned at the 1st Reformed Church of Scotia. All singers must show proof of vaccination. The group has 60 singers, of which 10 are new.
“Fingers crossed that we make it through the semester,” Fedak said.
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Mohawk Valley Chorus
The chorus started rehearsals this fall under director David Rossi at their traditional site at the Inman Senior Center in Amsterdam. All singers have to be vaccinated and wear a mask during rehearsal. Their annual Christmas concert has been tentatively scheduled for Dec. 4 and 5, along with their classics concert in mid-March and the pops concert for May.
Alyssa Rizzo has joined the group as the accompanist. New singers are welcome.

Octavo Singers
The chorus has not been in rehearsals yet so there is nothing definite as to whether it will sing Handel’s “Messiah” — a local holiday tradition usually held at Union College’s Memorial Chapel. Director Curtis Funk said in an email that he didn’t want the singers to rehearse masked — “the group’s too big for me to be heard through layers of cloth and no facility will let us rehearse unmasked.”
The board of the chorus is expected to vote soon on whether to cancel “Messiah,” so Funk said, “We’ll set our sights on Dvorak’s ‘Stabat Mater’ in the spring and keep our fingers crossed.” The work was to have been performed last April.

Saratoga Voices
Formerly the Burnt Hills Oratorio Society, the 50-year old chorus under the direction of William Jon Gray will open its season Nov. 19 at the Universal Preservation Hall in Saratoga Springs with Handel’s “Judas Maccabaeus” accompanied by a 16-piece orchestra.
Tuesday rehearsals began in September with all singers having to be vaccinated. Although the chorus numbers about 80 singers, the group is always looking for new singers. A February concert is planned on the musical “The Music Man” and a May concert of contemporary works.

Skidmore Community Chorus
New director Floydd Ricketts has been forging ahead despite the challenges the pandemic has set, and he reports that 98 percent of everyone on campus has been doubly vaccinated. But because his 65-member chorus includes 35 members of the community, they and everyone must fill out a form prior to each Wednesday rehearsal that they have no symptoms. Singers must also be masked at all times.
Despite all this, a holiday concert is set for Dec. 3 in Filene Concert Hall that will include African-American Christmas spirituals, which the 13-member Skidmore Chorus Vocal Ensemble will sing, and Part One of Handel’s “Messiah.” It is the first time in 31 years that the Handel work has been sung on campus.
The Skidmore String Ensemble, which includes violinist Michael Emery (the concertmaster of the Schenectady Symphony Orchestra) and cellist Jameson Platte (faculty member, former principal cellist of Glens Falls Symphony Orchestra) will participate.
Tickets are free but audience members must be vaccinated and wear masks.

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