Friday, December 18, 2020

Windham Chamber Singers adapt to digital holiday performance

Members of the Windham Chamber Singers directed
by Dr. Richard Nickerson perform songs during 'A
Maine Family Holiday' concert on You Tube. The 
group's annual holiday concert has become a tradition
locally but was forced to switch to digital-only
because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
By Daniel Gray

It wasn’t easy to shift from performing their popular “An American Family Holiday” Christmas concert live to streaming a You Tube event, but the Windham Chamber Singers are pleased with the result.


In early October, ongoing pandemic restrictions Chamber Singers Director Dr. Richard Nickerson announced the change with the first performance available online Dec. 5.


To many in the community, "An American Family Holiday," is a traditional Windham Chamber Singers event that happens every year featuring various holiday songs and guest stars in the Windham High School auditorium. But the pandemic couldn’t stop that yearly tradition, it just led to the concert being performed digitally. And for this year, the concert was renamed "A Maine Family Holiday" to celebrate Maine's bicentennial celebration.

Nickerson said that the project was fun and engaging for himself and the singers.

To pull it off, each student filmed their part separately, and then sent the file to Nickerson to splice them all together. When completed, the result turned out to be a spectacular show with other guest stars spliced into the mix of songs.

During the hour-long video, host Kim Block showcased the Windham Chamber Singers along with special guests John Cariani, Con Fullam, and our own U.S. Senator, Angus King. For musical accompaniments, the Chamber Singers were joined with Daniel Strange and his wife Ashley Liberty, Robyn Hurder and Clyde Alves, Travis James Humphrey, and some former WHS Chamber Singers that lent their voices to the concert. Even the beautiful dancers at Maine State Ballet were included making for a gorgeous show for us at home.

According to Nickerson, all around, it was an amazing performance and a wonderful job of everyone who was involved and added their talents and stories.

A personal favorite song during the whole performance for Nickerson was toward the end with the song “O Holy Night,” with the reason being they had Chamber Singer alumni from all over the globe reach out to sing along. There were former graduates all the way back from 1991 to 2019, for which he was very happy to hear from. Other songs featured in the video include “The Maine Christmas Song,” “Jingle Bells,” “Lo How a Rose E'er Blooming,” and many others.

With the video now topping more than 3,800 views on You Tube and steadily climbing, Nickerson said it was originally intended to only have the video up on the Windham Chamber Singers You Tube channel for a limited time, but he had changed his mind when a snowstorm hit Maine and knocked the
power out of many homes.

Nickerson said that not only were Mainers viewing the stream, but he noticed people from all over the globe were tuning in to watch.


"I was monitoring the live feed, and we had people from all over the country watching. People from as far away as Mexico and even people in Europe,” Nickerson said. “It was very exciting to be able to interact with people from literally all over the world."


Even though the end results were something truly amazing, Nickerson said performing digitally t isn't something that he and the Windham Chamber Singers would like to continue doing. It was a fun process for them, but it just isn't what the Chamber Singers do. They all love the excitement and joy that comes from a live performance on stage, not exactly staying at home and recording on a laptop or phone.


Nickerson said he encourages everyone to watch the video and await the return of live performances by the group.


“It's a way to bring the joy of the season,” he said. “Even in a time of restrictions of what we can and can't do, this concert was certainly making lemonade out of lemons. I’ve got a couple irons in the fire for things that we might be able to do next spring, but we’ll have to see. The only thing that is predictable is that things are unpredictable right now.”"

With the holiday concert serving as the Windham Chamber Singers only fundraiser for the whole year, things were a bit different with the introduction of an entirely free video on the internet.

If you would like to donate to the Windham Chamber Singers, they have a website where there are several options of donating. Please visit for more information. <

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