After 18 months of not singing together, the Island Community Chorus is ready to perform its first holiday concert since 2019. The chorus is currently smaller with 60 to 70 members, about 30 fewer than usual at their pre-pandemic holiday concerts. The group and its leader, Peter Boak, are happy to be back performing at the Whaling Church on Saturday, Dec. 4, at 7:30 pm and again on Sunday, Dec. 5, at 3 pm. They’ll perform some much-loved favorites along with a new work by Dr. Thomas LaVoy, commissioned by the ICC in celebration of 25 years together.
“Most of the repertoire we are working on is from our library,” Boak says, “but we will be premiering a new work in December by Thomas LaVoy called ‘Toward the Dawn.’”
LaVoy, who composed the cantata about Nancy Luce for the ICC a couple of years ago, wrote both the lyrics and music for this piece.
“The text was written specifically for this work during the COVID-19 pandemic; to reflect the understanding that a brighter day will soon come to us — one that we will appreciate all the more having lived through such a difficult time,” Dr. LaVoy says about the new work.
For members of the chorus, this Holiday Concert is something they’ve been looking forward to, even though they have been wearing masks during rehearsals. Members also have to provide proof of vaccination, Pamela Butterick, president of the ICC, says.
“We are overjoyed to be able to gather again and sing!” Butterick wrote in an email. “It’s a thrill to hear other voices and to be able to blend and tune together. We are so carefully following the science and the numbers, and we are optimistic that we will be able to follow through with the concerts.
“Because of the problem with breakthrough infections with the variant, we are mandating masks. With the COVID situation potentially fluid, we will continue that even if the indoor mask mandate is dropped by the towns.” Butterick did add, with a couple of smiley face emojis, “And no, it’s not pleasant to wear them singing.” If the current mask mandate is lifted by concert time, though, Butterick said masks will be optional for those attending.
The ICC has performed concerts on the Island since 1996, and before that there was an annual performance of Handl’s “Messiah.” Boak said in a previous article that there has been some form of a community chorus on the Island for a hundred years.
The upcoming Holiday Concert promises to feature very familiar arrangements of Christmas music, such as “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas,” some wintry songs, and the new LaVoy composition.
“This newest lovely piece was commissioned by our chorus in honor of Peter and his 25 years as our beloved director,” Butterick wrote. “While it would be most beautiful anytime, it is especially poignant as we are emerging from this pandemic.”
Island Community Chorus’ Holiday Concert, Saturday, Dec. 4, 7:30 pm, and Sunday, Dec. 5, 3 pm, at the Old Whaling Church in Edgartown. Suggested donation is $15. For more information on the ICC, visit islandcommunitychorus.com/for-chorus-members.