If you can carry a tune and you love Christmas and church hymns, the Notre Dame Community Choir may be for you.
“The only requirement is being able to match pitch. There are no auditions,” said Patrick Kronner, who directs the choir as Campus Ministry’s choral director and organist.
True to its name, the Community Choir is made up of men and women from the greater South Bend region as well as Notre Dame faculty, staff and students. The choir sings at the Basilica of the Sacred Heart during the summer months and on Christmas Eve.
This Christmas Eve the ensemble will sing for Lessons and Carols at 10 p.m. and Mass at 11 p.m. That’s an hour earlier than past years.
Kronner said there are 316 choir members on their list, with approximately 100 active members. With Christmas Eve being a family holiday, many choir members may not be in town. Typically 30-40 members turn out that night, leaving plenty of room in the choir loft for more.
Some of the freshest talent in the Community Choir are people who joined this past summer when the choir could meet again in person after more than a year of the pandemic.
“My impression is after that whole year of quarantine, people thought, ‘I’m not going to wait around any more. If I want to try something, I am going to do it!’”
When people were confined to their homes, the choir met over Zoom, offering people something fun to do with a large number of people in a safe way.
“The virtual meetings allowed for some nice opportunities to dive into some of the music a bit more. For example, every summer we sing Mozart’s Ave Verum Corpus, a famous choral anthem. I did a PowerPoint and went into the history or background of the music. We don’t always take the time for that kind of thing during in-person rehearsals,” Kronner said.
The choir also rehearsed during the Zoom meetings.
“Everyone was in their homes and I would stand there kind of awkwardly and play the piano and talk them through the singing. They were muted, but once in a while I would invite someone to unmute if they wanted to demonstrate. It was kind of cool to see some of them getting brave enough to unmute.”
The capabilities of Zoom made it easy for groups of singers to move into breakout rooms to rehearse their parts. “So I could be in one room with all the sopranos and altos and my colleague, Jonathan Hehn, could be in another room with the tenors and basses,” Kronner said.
They also had some fun.
“We did a few experiments, like we tried singing in canon where you echo each other. We unmuted and it was just chaos.”
Of course, virtual choir videos were all the rage in 2020 and the Community Choir produced one too. Each member recorded his or her part and Kronner edited it together. Since the choir could not sing in the Basilica on Christmas Eve due to the pandemic, they recorded “Lo, How A Rose E'er Blooming,” a hymn they would normally sing during Lessons and Carols, and posted it on YouTube.
If singing in a choir is on your post-quarantine bucket list, there’s no time like the present.
Those who would like to sing with the Community Choir on Christmas Eve may attend the practices in Coleman-Morse Center the next two Mondays — Dec. 13 and 20 — from 7 p.m. to 8:45 p.m. For more information about joining any time, email Kronner at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 574-631-7779.