On December 9, 2020, Riverside had its traditional Christmas concert. However, the only difference between this year’s and last year’s concert is that students wore special masks worn, socially distanced, and didn’t have a live audience to perform for. Fortunately, that didn’t stop the choir from having the yearly tradition of a Christmas concert as the concert was recorded for audiences at home to enjoy.

Chelsey Whitmore performing at the Christmas concert

With COVID-19 restrictions, it has been difficult for the music department to push through and continue with their courses, but choir students have been moving forward with caution while also enjoying the time spent together singing. All students have continued to wear their masks just like they have in their other classes, but not regular masks. Special choir masks provide a larger space between the mask and mouth for the singers to be able to sing easily and comfortably.

Music teacher, Mrs. Sharon Ipe felt confident about the performance knowing that students would follow social distancing rules and be wearing the specially designed masks.

Along with ordering special masks, Ipe ordered some new songs which, unfortunately, did not arrive on time, so she had to make the decision to use songs that the choir already knew and had performed in the past.

Part of the challenge of providing the performance for audiences at home is the technology. Riverside has a Performance Arts Leadership course (PAL), which is a course that helps with the technology requirements for musical theater, vocal jazz, choir, and all the other music department performances. One member of PAL, Simon Gale, and his team helped to record, edit, and organize all the performances that take place at Riverside. Gale commented that he already had a wide range of technology skills prior to joining the course. However, PAL also led him into learning new skills. “I’ve always been a huge tech person since the start, but PAL also played a huge role and helped me learn new skills that I didn’t have before joining this class.”

Even with the COVID-19 restrictions, the music department is trying its best to stay safe and sound, and singing together through the Christmas season brings a lot of joy during uncertain times.