COVID may have split Angel City Chorale (ACC) apart physically, but that didn’t stop Artistic Director Sue Fink, whom Simon Cowel affectionately and correctly labeled a “firecracker.” With one virtual concert under our belts, Sue and her team raised the bar with their creative vision for ACC’s virtual summer concert, Play it Forward, and challenged the choir to dig deep, river deep. COVID be damned.
The first rehearsals were Zoom calls which allowed for “seeing” one another, but due to lag time, each member sang on mute, alone in quarantine. This kept the group singing, but not really harmonizing. Then, as LA began to open up, rehearsals were moved to a parking lot. Members sat in their cars each with a microphone and radios tuned to a designated frequency; finally, singers could hear each other, music was made, harmony restored. A level up from before.
The path to producing a virtual concert like Play it Forward is paved with many stones and takes a village. ACC pulled from its ranks as well as hired a community of energetic, creative, passionate people. To start, producers created the vision for each song and kept all the parts flowing and together. Each member created audio and video files for each song. Regine Verougstraete animated, Billy Rugh choreographed, taught via Zoom, and conducted parking lot dance rehearsals. Assistant conductors, accompanists, sound engineers, and so many more came together, at a COVID safe distance, to help create Play it Forward. And through it all with strength, grace, and creativity the director, Jill D’Agnenica, took all those disparate pieces and assembled them into one cohesive story.
Play it Forward, is an expression of our commitment to build community and honor diversity and inclusion. The songs and visuals were designed to create a big, joyful tapestry of music and message. Members videotaped themselves dancing and singing outdoors in an ode to the environment; there’s our community outreach event planting trees and painting a mural for the Boys and Girls Club of Burbank & Greater East Valley; and stunning animation brings to life a song about home and hope.
As of this writing, the concert has garnered almost 17,000 views; over four times the audience of a typical live Angel City Chorale concert. And thanks to an outpouring of generous donations, over $102,000 was raised to help offset the production cost and offer support to the Angel City Youth Chorale (ACYC) in partnership with the Boys and Girls Club.