Carmel Choirs Presents Hometown Holiday 2020
Every holiday season Carmel Monthly proudly promotes Carmel Choirs’ “Holiday Spectacular”—a long-standing tradition for Carmel High School students and for all families and residents alike. Like every other annual tradition and event, “Holiday Spectacular” has been deeply impacted by the current pandemic, but it will not be canceled! As they say in show business, “The show must go on”!
I spoke with Carmel Choirs Choral Directors Kathrine Kouns, Kyle Barker and Anna DeBard about the changes and challenges they and their students have had to implement and overcome to produce a quality show this December and how they have collaborated with community partners to ensure that this year’s “Holiday Spectacular” lives up to its name and reputation as one of the greatest holiday shows in the city and surrounding areas.
Producing Under Pandemic
All three choral directors shared their highlights and challenges with regards to planning, practicing and producing this year’s holiday production—which is also its major fundraiser—with unconventional means and technologies.
“Since last spring, we’ve all learned a lot of new skills and integrated a lot of new technologies,” Barker said. “I’ve learned what an audio interface is and how to do sound mixings and things like that so we can have better audio for our classes. We’re lucky to have a ‘tech team’ that’s student run, and they’ve been killing it. It’s been cool to give students a new opportunity to be creative and learn how to use other resources.”
DeBard added, “While it’s been frustrating not doing things how we normally do and having to learn a lot of new things, we are going to be able take what we learned from this year and apply it in the future if we ever need to. The things and technologies that we’ve learned to use are beneficial to help kids practice at home when they’re not [physically] here in school.”
One of the biggest challenges for the Carmel Choirs has been working around the Carmel Clay Schools’ hybrid schedule that was implemented as a result of COVID-19. Additionally, it has been a unique challenge for the directors to provide opportunities for personal connections to be cultivated and to keep the students motivated and excited while complying with pandemic protocols.
“While I agree that these new resources are helpful for so many things, I don’t ever want anyone to mistake that there is any kind of replacement for actual human connection within an ensemble,” Kouns emphasized. “We’re finding all these ways to adapt, make exceptions and work around it, but nothing can give these kids the same experience as being in a room together making music with human voices. We are doing everything we possibly can to make it a positive experience for the students. However, I want to make sure that young people still know how to make human connections and how to get in touch with their own humanity through the arts.”
Reinventing “Holiday Spectacular”
While this year’s holiday production will be quite different from yesteryears, it has been redesigned to safely bring the spirit of the holidays into your homes this December.
The directors explained that the musical numbers have been shortened to make for an enjoyable streaming experience, but the production will not be short of dramatic lighting, brilliant backdrops, cinematographic brilliance and, of course, the extraordinary voices representing Carmel Choirs.
“There are a lot of things that are not possible in a safe way right now, so we have figured out a way to make ‘Holiday Spectacular’ a new experience for the audience,” Kouns explained. “This year is all about bringing our program out into the community, and so the show, this year, is going to be themed ‘Hometown Holiday.’ We are going to showcase the beauty and uniqueness of our hometown with the help of members from our community and our singers.”
The directors and production team are creating video packages at iconic places throughout the city and in front of Carmel Choirs sponsors’ places of business. These video packages will lead into the variety of holiday numbers that will be recorded by the choral groups while observing social distancing and wearing flashy masks. The end result will be a high-quality musical production that will be streamed on the Carmel Performing Arts YouTube channel on Dec. 18, 19 and 20.
A Time for Giving and Receiving
While the directors continue to welcome and appreciate any and all support from sponsors and donors, they will continue another annual tradition—the tradition of giving back to their community and to those in need.
“We are partnering with a couple of food pantries, and our video team is going to put a QR code or a ‘text to give’ kind of message on the screen so that viewers at home can scan or click to donate to the organization,” Kouns shared. “We usually have auction items all over the lobby, but instead, this year we are looking at doing a couple of big items for raffle that will be raffled off during the show or doing a 50/50 cash kind of raffle. We are still looking for businesses who might be interested in partnering and donating a bigger ticket item for a raffle, and we would produce one of our video spots in front of their building or storefront. Please contact me via email if you are interested!”
Save the Date and Plan Your Watch Parties
Mark your calendars, plan your watch parties and help spread the word. This year’s production will be streamed on the Carmel Performing Arts YouTube channel, Dec. 18, 19 and 20, and viewers will be able to go the Carmel Choirs’ webpage to pay for their tickets for the web stream. The proceeds will benefit the Carmel Choirs just as the proceeds from previous “Holiday Spectacular” productions traditionally have.
“Everybody who watches this will get a view into our hometown and see what it’s all about and see our community members and kids out there in action,” Kouns expressed. “Although it will be very different, we’re hoping that our kids will still get that ‘togetherness’ experience during the video portion, and then our audience will still get to celebrate [the holiday season] with the kids by watching it.”
Be sure to follow Carmel Choirs on Facebook and Instagram and visit its website at carmelchoirs.org for ticket and streaming information once it becomes available! If you are interested in becoming a sponsor or donating a raffle item, please email Kathrine Kouns at KKouns@ccs.k12.in.us.