Editor’s Note: As our churches prepare to reopen, the return of our church choirs is part of the last phase of the Diocese’s phased approach to safely reopening. While that may still be months away, it will surely be a joyful milestone on our journey back. The following first-person story reflects this.
It was just two months ago when I sent out a mass email to all St. Joachim music ministers, letting them know the sad news that we would not be singing together for Holy Week. This is our ‘Super-Bowl’ and we would miss being together for these important liturgies: Holy Thursday with its beautiful Eucharistic procession; Good Friday, with its impassioned tones and massive turnout; Easter Vigil, where the choir has front-row seats as dozens of new Catholics are baptized; and then finally a very festive Easter morning with a horn quartet, Easter bonnets and a joyous rendition of ‘He Is Risen.’ All of this, lost to a dangerous, invisible virus.
That email ended with these spontaneous words: “What a great day it will be when we sing together again!” Within minutes after hitting ‘send’ those words had a tune, and within hours it was developing into a full-fledged song, and within a day I was passing a full arrangement around to my fellow ‘SoCal Composers Forum’ colleagues for review.
I then got it to the choir and we swung into action immediately to get a solid recording going. Nine of us showed up on March 31 for a ‘social-distance’ outdoor rehearsal, followed by a base-line recording in the church. It was all videotaped. (Don’t worry! We kept our distance!) The following Thursday, April 2, Frank Calabretta (a parishioner, choir member and volunteer techie) and I set up an outdoor, drive-by recording station beside Nevin Hall. About 15 members of the student choir and many members of the adult choirs pulled up in their cars and sang the part they had learned at home online, all of it recorded and videotaped. One woman even sang from her car with our over-head mic poking in the window.
This gave us the critical mass necessary for a great recording, though Frank had his hands full, purging from all recorded tracks all the extraneous outdoor sounds of everything from passing aircraft, to sirens, to motorcycles, to a noisy flock of parrots.
After all that, we took on the task of collecting Zoom recordings from both student and adult choir members who couldn’t make it to our outdoor recording station. This added a little more beef to the sound and enabled us to include many more faces in the final product.
Frank spent days synchronizing all these varied tracks together. He has been tireless in his efforts to get this all to work under some of the craziest recording conditions ever.
After all this, the audio tracks went to Rich Mouser, who has done most of the post-production on our 3 CDs. Frank had already taken care of much of the post production this time around, lightening the load on Rich. We finished the audio mix on April 17.
Countless hours of video-tape footage were recorded by Frank as well as my daughter, Colleen, and then landed on the lap of Joe McDonald, a parishioner and videographer who sorted through all of this to come up with a great video to go with the new song. His work was crucial to the overall project as this mountain of scattered video clips was on his shoulders alone. After much arduous labor with a 12-year-old computer we finally crossed the finish line.
This means it went from nothing, to an idea, to a song, to a recording w/video in about 4 weeks. (This under the duress of quarantine.) The one great thing about recording during this time has been the answer everyone has given me as I ask for favor-upon-favor: “Sure, what else have I got to do?”
You’re going to love this song along with all those familiar St. Joachim Parish/School faces in the mix! This is a song the whole world needs to hear right now!
Editor’s Note: The beautiful, uplifting song can be viewed and heard via youtube at: