Return to in-person choir concerts after trebles of last year

Jane Porter, Staff Writer

On Oct. 18, Edina High School Choirs put on their first performances since March of 2020, their first opportunity since then to show off their skills in front of a live audience. In preparation for these concerts, the directors worked to prepare their students for the sudden adjustments to class and found new ways to accommodate COVID restrictions. The aim was to make the concerts as similar to past in-person ones as possible. 

Christopher Piela, Varsity SSA and Concert Choir director at Edina High School, coached these choir classes through the difficulties of online choir last year. He expressed how much being at home for choir impacted his singers. 

“I think the most challenging aspect of choir during the pandemic last year was not being able to do full group singing,” Piela said. “Clearly singers rely on each other to learn parts, and it’s easier to be a confident singer [in a group].” Being in a group setting when learning as a singer allows them to learn from each other and eventually improve themselves. 

He pointed out that there has been a large shift for many students to get used to the harsh deadlines of concerts because of the lack of performances last year. “The pacing of things is very fast … We have a lot of music to learn in a short amount of time,” Piela said. 

Through all these changes, he feels it is still very important to be in person this year for the choir. “From the choir directors’ perspective[s], it really warms our hearts to hear our students singing again in the same room and creating harmonies,” Piela said. 

There’s a lot that goes on behind the scenes, especially this year, to make sure that the students feel prepared to perform after so long. “The goal though is really for the parents to not even have to think about [the preparations]. We just want them to be able to enjoy their child’s concert,” Piela said. 

Agnes Semington, parent of junior Concert Choir member Lizzie Semington, says she cannot wait for the upcoming concerts. “I’m looking forward to hearing all the choirs together and hearing the progression of Lizzie,” Semington said. Since Lizzie started choir at Edina in third grade, Agnes has always been excited to be able to attend the concerts and see the choir students’ consistent improvement. 

After attending last year’s online concerts, she felt that it was hard to enjoy them in the same way as an audience member when they couldn’t hear and see all the singers in person. “There are like these different camera angles you can see [online], like when they do the whole stage, but it’s hard to see virtually,” Semmington said. 

With the COVID measures in place for the concerts, she is very happy that there is a live, in-person concert that many people can attend. 

For many Edina community members, the concerts have been long anticipated as not only a way to return back to normal, but also as an excuse to get together and celebrate the success of the singers. 

“[Online concerts] are not the same as hearing and seeing all the kids… so yeah, [I am] excited about the upcoming concerts this week,” Semington said.