Although church closures have prevented the Vallejo Drive Church Chancel Choir from weekly choir rehearsals and singing together in person each Sabbath, God provided a different way for the members to gather and praise His name during the pandemic. Soon, a virtual choir began to take shape.
The first few rehearsals and performances were difficult as members learned to adjust to a virtual format. Some choir members were not able to join because of technical challenges of solo rehearsing and self-recording. The new set-up also includes arranging accompaniment, directing virtually, and sharing the video to be edited.
Helene Quintana, Vallejo Drive church ministry of music director, was not used to directing in this manner. “Our singing together—relying on each other’s presence, the voices supporting each other in harmony and camaraderie—was what we all knew,” she said. “This was a new world to me.”
The first performance had fewer participants than what they were used to, but Quintana was met with enthusiasm from those watching Vallejo Drive church services online. “After our first virtual anthem, we were bombarded with words of appreciation and a number of requests to join,” Quintana recalled. Those who asked to join the virtual choir were not only singers from neighboring churches, but also from around the world: France, Spain, Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Fiji, and Finland.
Before the pandemic, membership of the chancel choir was about 25-30. Since adapting to a virtual setting, it has grown to about 40 members, including those overseas.
Irene Becerra, a new virtual choir member in Chile, was grateful for the opportunity to be a part of this choir. “Staying at home has not been easy,” she said, “and sometimes days went by with me not knowing what day it was! Singing for the choir gave me a purpose for each week, and it certainly gives me a little taste of what it will be like to praise God in heaven.”
Miguel Yanez, another virtual choir member in Chile, was equally grateful. “Thank you, Vallejo Drive Church Chancel Choir, for allowing me to share these pleasant moments of rehearsal and recording,” said Yanez. “It is never too late to compose the soul afflicted by the loss, and it is always good to praise the name of God.”
The choir is on a break for the summer but will resume in September. The anthems, which are included in services each week, can be found on the Vallejo Drive church website and on Quintana’s YouTube channel.
“This choral experience was highly gratifying; under confinement circumstances, choral singing was still possible,” said Valeria Urigu, a listener in France. “We are virtually traveling and sharing around the world!”