Island Community Chorus returns with Holiday Concert

Peter Boak and the Island Community Chorus will perform at the Old Whaling Church in December for the first time since before the pandemic. — Lexi Pline

In its first public performance since 2019, the Island Community Chorus will present a special holiday show at the Old Whaling Church in Edgartown on Saturday, Dec. 4, at 7:30 pm, and Sunday, Dec. 5, at 3 pm. 

According to the music director for the chorus, Peter Boak, the holiday program will be slightly truncated, and there will be a few less performers this time around than in conventional years.

When COVID first hit, public performances like choral singing and wind instruments were the first to go. 

Now folks are getting back into the groove of practicing weekly and preparing for the upcoming concert. “People haven’t really sung in so long, so I figured we need to go into this a little bit slowly and a little bit cautiously,” Boak said. 

In order to adhere to health precautions, the weekly rehearsals the choir normally does have been cut to an hour and a half, instead of two hours.

Additional safety precautions include having all performers vaccinated and wearing masks — the audience is required to wear masks as well.

Windows will be open, so the space will be well ventilated, Boak added, and singers will be spaced 25 feet from the first row of the audience. Masks will be available for anyone who needs one. 

“We are just following the protocols to a T, which means shortening rehearsals and performance time. People’s voices are also out of shape, because some of them haven’t sung for a year and a half,” Boak said. “We figured we would go on the light side, but I think people are just going to be happy to have a live concert; they don’t really care how long it is.”

The piece the chorus will be performing is a brand-new production called “Toward the Dawn,” and the performance falls on the 25th anniversary of the group’s inception.

Thomas LaVoy, who also wrote a performance piece dedicated to Nancy Luce, wrote the special piece commissioned by the chorus — they were supposed to perform it last year, but the show was canceled because of COVID. 

“I don’t think anybody else has their hands on the piece yet, and we are hoping Dr. LaVoy can be here for the first performance,” Boak said. “We will be doing a repeat performance of the piece for our spring concert as well, so we can reach more people.”

For Boak, he is happy to be back with his friends and fellow performers again, and the reunion is long overdue. “It feels like forever since I’ve been able to get together and perform with my friends and the people that enjoy musicmaking as much as I do. To be able to come together again is like a breath of fresh air,” Boak said. 

Even though the choir group is a bit smaller this year (60 people instead of 100), Boak said, it will still be an enjoyable performance. 

No preregistration is required. Simply show up at the door of the Old Whaling Church in Edgartown for admission.