Passion for music behind Oriana Singers use of technology to rehearse, says director

A renowned yoga master once said, “If you want to conquer the anxiety of life, live in the moment, live in the breath.”

These are words to live by, especially when we are being asked to quarantine ourselves. To go outside is so invigorating. Raking the lawn or sitting on the deck or find a secluded place to take a walk. It can be transforming. Some are saying if you can’t get outside, throw open a window to get the fresh air.

This story centres around breathing and the importance of breathing. In this case, it is breathing together as a group with a little help from some new technology.

Every Monday night at a local church in Cobourg, 70 people from all walks of life in Northumberland County, and some from beyond, gather to share a passion for singing.

Teachers, nurses, business consultants, and retirees make up the choir known as the Oriana Singers of Northumberland.

But when the pandemic hit and practices had to be cancelled, Lynn Janes, the artistic director, and conductor, got an idea.


The first rehearsal was mostly reconnecting with each other online. But after about an hour of that, they all tried to sing as a chorus. As Lynn will readily admit, it really didn’t work. It certainly wasn’t the same as a regular practice. But at the very least, they were together, and they were once again sharing their love of music.

Despite the technical hurdles, rehearsals will continue online. The second one was organized differently. There was less trying to coordinate everybody to hear each other. Instead, microphones were muted, and everyone followed Lynn, singing in their own homes along with her.

You see, the point is not how good it all works technically. The idea is to gather and share the joy of singing.

If the pandemic had not hit, the choir was supposed to celebrate its 50th anniversary with a special performance at Trinity United Church at the end of March. But that was cancelled.

Still, Lynn said there are plans in the works to do a concert in the fall to honour all those frontline workers. And the anniversary concert could take place after that. It all depends.

Lynn will tell you the act of singing collective is a potent, magical thing.

The power of breathing. It can release anxiety. It can bring calm and solace. It can draw people together one night a week during a pandemic to forget the darkness and share moments of great light. Just breathe.


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