MISSOULA — When the COVID-19 pandemic took center stage, choirs around the world braced for the inevitable -- virtual rehearsals and canceled performances.
For the Missoula Community Chorus, a special performance highlighting adversity and resilience would never be heard. They had titled the concert “The Way Through.”
“We canceled our concert ‘The Way Through’ and basically, the choir, the Community Chorus, did not meet again in person until August of 2021, this August, as a full choir,” noted Missoula Community Chorus artistic director and conductor Coreen Duffy.
The multi-generational singers of this ensemble found their way through despite a canceled 2020 season. They’ll finally return to the stage of UM’s Dennison Theatre on Friday for an in-person concert, but this performance isn’t about the ones flipping the pages, it’s about the pages themselves.
“We realized later on in the spring of 2020 that composers especially, all the artists were suffering due to, ya know, Broadway shutdown, we knew about that, that made the headlines, but there are a lot of composers who were working behind the scenes to fulfill commissions and doing lots of things that they had been busy doing and suddenly a lot of those commissions were canceled. - Missoula Community Chorus artistic director and conductor Coreen Duffy
Considering the composers – who are the unsung heroes of the choral universe, Duffy had an idea – a composition contest – with few rules other than this: composers had to create a song during the pandemic’s shutdown. If chosen, the song would be performed at the Missoula Community Chorus’s first concert back.
“So, we thought, ‘let's try something that will bring new music to light, it will give hope that we will be able to do this someday.’ So, we decided to call our composition contest “The Way Through,” which was the name of our season that didn't get to happen,” Duffy explained.
Word of the competition traveled across Montana, then across the country -- and even across the globe. “We had some incredible submissions. We had a submission from Hong Kong, one of our prize winners is from the UK, and then of course all around the country,” Duffy said.
Seven compositions were selected out of 30 submissions and the brand new songs will make their world premiere in Missoula on Friday as the Missoula Community Chorus turns the page on a tough year, all the way through.
The concert will begin at 7:30 on Friday, December 9th at the Dennison Theatre on the University of Montana campus. Tickets can be purchased at the theater, or bought in advance online at GrizTix.com. Tickets purchased online will also come with a link to livestream the concert.