Local choir to launch free online concert Dec. 16

December 3, 2020   ·   0 Comments

By Sam Odrowski

A festive collection of Achill Choral Society’s performances, featuring music celebrating Christmas, Hanukkah and Winter Solstice is premiering December 16 at 8 p.m. for the price of free.

Tickets to the “Star Light, Holiday Bright” concert will be available online at to anyone hoping to watch memorable holiday performances by the Orangeville based choir group.

“When we realized we weren’t going to be able to have a live concert, we still felt it was important to have something for our community up in Orangeville and more so, our choir,” said Shawn Grenke, Artistic Director and Choir Conductor.

“We record all of our concert’s in HD audio and video…so we went back over the last three or four years and chose some of our favourite pieces from seasonal concerts and pulled together some audience favourites and sing-alongs to create this online virtual holiday concert.”

To freshen up the performances, Grenke said choir members have created individual video introductions to each piece they perform, providing history and context.

“Our audience really is friends and family of the choir, so I felt it would be a really nice way to tie in friends and the family and the community,” Grenke noted.

He said some of those audience members have been in isolation because of the COVID-19 pandemic, so it will be nice to connect with them virtually.

“I think being able to see their friends in some of the intro videos, I think that’s going to touch a lot of hearts,” Grenke told the Citizen. “We have some people that are audience members who have been in long-term care facilities who haven’t been able to leave, who haven’t been able to see their families.”

“It’s been a really lonely time for a lot of people, especially some of our more elderly singers and congregation members,” he continued.

“I’m just hoping that the whole production, really, is something that might warm people’s hearts during this really horrible, uncertain time.”

Some of the classic holiday pieces that will be performed by the Achill Choir for their free concert include, “12 Days of Christmas,” “O Come All Ye Faithful,” and “Jingle Bells.”

“We’ve been very careful to not call this a Christmas Concert because, as a community group, we are sensitive of the fact that not everybody might be Christian or celebrate Christmas,” Grenke explained.

“We have some solstice pieces in there, which talks about life, but as well some Hanukkah songs, which deals with of course Hanukkah, and the lighting of the candles, so we try to make it seasonal rather than Christmas.”

The Achill Choir has had to pause its regular in-person practices due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but they’ve been doing bi-weekly Zoom calls for rehearsals to keep everybody connected.

“It’s not the same, of course, as a real live rehearsal, but it’s a way to engage and there are some musical things we can do,” said Grenke. “We’re planning on doing some type of concert outside next spring, we’re going to see where the world is then.”

Grenke said he’s hoping to move anywhere between 200 and 300 tickets for the free holiday concert, since that is how many attendees they’d get for a typical in-person show.

He encourages anyone looking to get into the holiday spirit to grab a ticket at and check out their concert on December 16.

“If you’re not yet in the holiday mood, that’s really understandable, but check out the Achill Choir and the ‘Star Light, Holiday Bright’ concert, it might give you a little smile as you go into this really uncertain holiday season,” Grenke enthused.

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