MISSOULA — Now celebrating its 50th anniversary, the Five Valley Chorus of Sweet Adelines has built a reputation across the region, earning eight regional championship titles, competing internationally, and performing around Missoula throughout the year.
Yet, even with all of that experience, the group couldn’t avoid the pandemic, of course they weren't alone in this obstacle. Musicians everywhere had to sacrifice their craft for the good of the community last year, and for the Five Valley Chorus, a year of virtual rehearsals tested their typical tune of optimism.
“Wifi connections have been bad for some, we can’t hear each other, and we're singing with ourselves at our homes, which has been a lovely challenge,” management team leader Cindy Morin told MTN News.
In a cappella -- everything must be just right; from keeping the beat to staying on pitch, to blending with the group, all the while making it look easy and fun. Throw technology into the mix, and problems are bound to arise.
“It was a leap of faith for everybody,” said music director Candy Johnson, in regard to moving the group to Zoom rehearsals.
With 50 years of tradition, the group had no interest in backing down. A resilient troupe of Montana women, they were determined to carry on in carrying the tune. In fact, leaders Cindy and Candy said they’d do it all over again if it meant singing through the pandemic.
“Thank God for Zoom, really, it kept me sane because we were able to share music with each other despite the fact that we couldn't be around each other,” said Cindy.
Now, with new technological skills in their repertoire, the group has finally returned to in-person rehearsals for those who feel comfortable doing so.
“To be back with the girls in the same room with the sound all around us, and to be able to hug each other...that’s it,” said Cindy.
Congregating at a member's home in Missoula -- nearly 30 women have returned to the rehearsals, and a handful continue joining in via Zoom -- to say the gals are giddy would be an understatement.
“It was almost like a religious experience,” Candy said of their first rehearsal back. “It was such a beautiful thing to be able to hear the four parts of the chord all around you.”
You can see the Five Valley Chorus in action around the 4th of July when they perform in person with the Missoula City Band in Bonner Park.
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