SINGAPORE - The annual Christmas concerts put up by the Cathedral Choir of the Risen Christ at the Cathedral of the Good Shepherd since 2002 are usually watched by ministers, diplomats and high commissioners from all over the globe. The venue has a seating capacity of 650.
The choir's 47th Christmas concert this year, however, will be be a little different. Like many other live performances this year, it will go digital because of Covid-19 restrictions.
The choir will be presenting two concerts online. The first, Christmas Lives On!, is performed at the Cathedral of the Good Shepherd. Part one was uploaded on the choir's social media pages on Saturday (Dec 19); part two will be uploaded on Dec 24.
The second concert, A Child is Born, will be held at Novena Church, which invited the choir to stage an online presentation. This performance will be uploaded on Novena Church's social media pages on Dec 23.
Peter Low, the founder, director and conductor of the choir, refers to the pandemic as a "freak of nature" and said he was resigned to the fact that there would be no Christmas concert this year.
His two daughters, aged 39 and 43, however, were "adamant that the concert should go on". This prompted the 72-year-old to think of using online mediums to preserve the tradition.
It was not an easy undertaking.
"It was really a challenge," said Low, who has three grandchildren.
"I really had to sit down and think hard about how to overcome all the obstacles: safe distancing, restrictions on the number of performers who could sing without masks, and so on."
The choir started preparing for the concert - which involve 76 choristers performing 34 songs from all over the globe in their original languages - only in mid-November. This was right after the cap was lifted to allow 30 performers on stage at any one time.
"We barely had any opportunity to have long practices. It was just two evenings when we gathered to settle our positioning since we all had to stand 1m apart during the performances," he said.
The two concerts will also feature dances and music accompaniment paying homage to the countries that the songs originate from.
Low said: "There is really an unimaginable number of carols out there besides what we listen to in Singapore.
"I would love for our concerts to spark a curiosity in listeners to look further into Christmas music and explore beyond what they are used to."