Hudson choruses innovate with in-car, online programming

Kent Weeklies
Assistant Artistic Director Mario Buchanan is pictured leading the car chorus.

While traditional choral singing stopped in March 2020 with the beginning of pandemic, Hudson Community Choruses (HCC) – Children, Youth and Adult – continue to provide programming and are planning for a return to live performances in 2021.

Since choral singing is considered a “super spreader” event, HCC, ended traditional rehearsals almost nine months ago. But adapting an idea that originated with an East Coast group, several members of the HCC adult chorus recently produced an online video greeting for the holidays from the safety of their cars.

The Car Chorus was limited to just eight singers in order to test the idea and stay within state health department guidelines. The Concert-On-Wheels and was produced with the help of Hudson’s Burford T. Hedgehog Productions, HCC Assistant Artistic Director Mario Buchanan, chorus members Clay Archer, Eve Sliwinski and Kathy Sluzewski and singers Jennifer Dudinec, Laura Pritchard, Maria Tazzi, Amy Shick, Pat McCoy, Dan Gold, Ryan Dawe and Kevin McMillan.

With the permission of Christ Church Episcopal, each of the eight singers lined their cars in the church parking lot on a warm November Saturday afternoon. Steven Savanyu of the production company placed a microphone in front of each car. Singers then placed the microphones inside their car on the dashboard and were instructed to turn their radios to a designated FM station to hear the piano music, played by Buchanan who also directed from the hill above the parking area. Singers were able to hear the accompaniment, hear other singers and themselves during the recording. Voices went through a sound board and were recorded by Savanyu. Archer, with photos and videos provided, put together the final video which was added to the chorus You Tube channel on Christmas Eve at https://youtu.be/DkyyHK5mKXM . In order to limit ambient sound, car windows were closed and car engines were turned off. Radios were played on the accessory mode leading to just one dead car battery (which was quickly jumped.)

“We have built such a great choral tradition in the area bringing in singers from more than 14 communities into our Hudson-based ensemble. Our Youth and Children’s programs are continuing to grow. We knew we had to do something to keep our members engaged,” said HCC President Kathy Sluzewski. “Members of the car chorus really enjoyed the opportunity to sing with others again. It’s in our DNA so when we can’t sing as a group, we really miss it. We hope to do several more car choruses once the weather breaks as a way to sing together until we can fully rehearse and perform. We are staying updated and evolving our programs as conditions and finances change.”

In addition to the Car Chorus, the adult, children’s and youth choruses have been meeting in Zoom video conference groups online and enjoyed a Summer Singscape program with chats about music history, how programs are developed and other educational information provided by Artistic Director Nathaniel Duvuvuei, Buchanan and Emeritus Director Sliwinski. Since the fall, all groups are meeting in live online sessions twice per month and learning from HCC recorded YouTube programs on the alternate weeks. These programs will continue online until rehearsals and performances are considered safe.

The sessions are free and open to all, but members have been urged to pay their annual membership fees or make a contribution to HCC in order to continue to pay directors and other organizational expenses. Since the beginning of the pandemic, the volunteer HCC board has been committed to honoring the contracts made with its artistic directors. Like many other arts organizations concert ticket sales provide a large portion of operating expenses. With both HCC’s annual Spring and Holiday concerts canceled, the organization has been seeking support from both members and the community at large.

To contribute, go to www.hudsonsings.org or the HCC Facebook page or send a tax-deductible check to Hudson Community Choruses, PO Box 468, Hudson 44236 or to find out more information on joining chorus online events for children, youth and adults, email kathy@hudsonsings.org.