Around this time last year, Stone Mountain Chorus barbershop quartets planned to deliver their annual Singing Valentines to homes, offices, schools, and hospitals across Atlanta. This was a Valentine’s Day tradition with a history going back decades.
Little did they know during their Valentine’s Day rounds that a brewing pandemic would change everything.
As the storm clouds of seizure and disease troubled the world, the singers of the Stone Mountain Chorus watched art organizations close their doors and postpone events.
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The vocal group’s last personal indoor rehearsal took place on March 10, 2020. Unknown to the Georgia group participants, an event across the country halted their activities as well as that of many other choirs.
On the same day, a local choir in Mount Vernon, Washington, held a rehearsal that would become known as the “Super Spreader” event. The majority of the members of this choir have been infected with COVID-19. This event sent shock waves across the country, closing church and recreational chant groups from one side of the country to the other.
Stone Mountain Chorus then interrupted the regular rehearsals, switched to mostly virtual rehearsals and luckily avoided a similar event.
Almost a year has passed and Valentine’s Day comes on its usual date. Hearts will still yearn to show affection for loved ones, especially after the past 12 months.
Robert Siegel, President of the Stone Mountain Chorus, has an announcement that will lift the spirits of anyone looking to send a message of love to loved ones. The annual Singing Valentines take place in a virtual format.
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“On Sunday, February 14th, 2021, Valentine’s Day will roll around again. We know that it is still unsafe for our quartets to deliver personally, ”said Siegel.
A solution to save tradition comes from another arts organization. Marietta’s Big Chicken Chorus found itself in a similar situation and sought to partner with Stone Mountain Chorus to deliver personalized virtual singing Valentines.
“The partnership goes without saying, as our director Ben McDaniel is the singer in the Big Chicken Chorus and is currently their interim director,” said Siegel.
The Virtual Singing Valentine consists of a video with two traditional Valentines songs. “Heart of My Heart” and “Let Me Call You Sweetheart” are performed by the quartet and choir, with a background of photos of members of both choirs and their loved ones. A personalized photo and a message are attached at the end of the video.
“It’s not the same as being there,” said Siegel. “But the element of surprise can remain and it is always the thought that counts.”
Personalized Singing Valentine’s Day can be ordered from either the Stone Mountain Chorus website (www.stonemountainchorus.org) or the Big Chicken Chorus website (www.bigchickenchorus.org), or by calling (404) 482-3006.
Part of the proceeds will go to FOCUS & Fragile Kids, an organization that is dedicated to supporting children with disabilities and their families.
Holley Calmes is a freelance writer and public relations consultant who specializes in the arts. Email to hcalmes @ mindspring.com.