Hoosli Offering a Safe “Koliada” for 2021
Arts groups have suffered mightily since the COVID pandemic broke upon the world, and none more so than choirs. The very instrument, the human voice, that gives choirs expression was also deemed to be the most efficient spreader of the virus, and had shut choir activity down since March of 2020. Since then, we have experienced all forms of emotional hills and valleys. The development of vaccines with proven effectiveness has given us all hope of surviving and thriving in the pandemic landscape. Availability of tests for the virus has offered some assurance of safety in interacting with other fellow humans.
Of course, as we know, the pandemic is ever evolving. The latest variant, Omicron, wasn’t on the radar when Hoosli planned a recording of a suite of Christmas carols, or “Koliada” for virtual presentation. Last year, they, like many choirs, recorded as individuals from their own homes with their own phone cameras and had their singing assembled for online presentation. With the availability of the vaccines and testing, Hoosli believed they could record as a group this year, albeit with no live audience.
When Hoosli approached me to record the carols, I was told that everyone would need official proof of vaccination to be allowed in the session, and that included me. Also, each person involved in the production was to undergo a rapid COVID test that would need to show negative before proceeding with the session. That, and masking would be required up to the point when the singers would begin the performance. Production staff was not exempt from wearing masks throughout the session. I felt very safe to accept the gig.
“Koliada” is the Ukrainian word for Christmas carol. Tad Biernacki, Hoosli’s musical director, prepared the group with a suite of Christmas carols for the session, including a Ukrainian version of the Halleluia Chorus from Handel’s “Messiah”, all ably accompanied on accordion (of course!) by Myron Kurjewicz. There was also a traditional “veenchovinia”, a poem offered to the household where the carols are sung, wishing the hosts health and good fortune for the coming year.
The session went off without a hitch and it was only days later that the world started learning of the new threat of the Omicron COVID variant that is now causing great concern for this year’s Christmas season. Hoosli considers itself very fortunate to have conducted the project safely and before the new threat appeared, and a new set of restrictions was imposed on the city.
To whet your appetite, here’s Hoosli with Handel’s Halleluia Chorus, from Messiah; arr. T. Biernacki
Visit Hoosli’s Youtube page for the full video of Koliada 2021