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Celebrating Christmas with a virtual cabaret show

December’s arrival would typically see the Christmas concert season move into high gear. But as with almost all live music this year, such outings aren’t on the agenda.

That new and temporary state of reality has prompted the Grand Harmony Chorus, the region’s female a capella show choir, to go virtual, offering both a performance and a fundraising auction.

“This is the first time we’ve ever done anything like this. … This is one way that we could still produce our Christmas show and kind of work together online,” explained Carrie Debrone, the group’s performance chair.

The prerecorded variety show will be lighting up the homes of anyone interested, streaming on YouTube from December 4-6. The goal for the 35-minute program is to allow the Grand Harmony Chorus – a group of nearly 45 women – to perform after the unplanned hiatus and to share in the holiday spirit while raising funds for the group and the Women’s Crisis Services of Waterloo Region.

“Due to the pandemic this year, we couldn’t have any live performances. So we got a Christmas committee together to brainstorm and come up with a new idea of how we can get our Christmas songs out to the community and just give them a little bit of cheer,” explained the group’s Jane Stoltz of the impetus for the online show.

The range of options inherent in a cabaret-style show is what makes this year’s performance special, she added.

“We have made a variety of things. We have our favorite songs, a Christmas medley of Silent Night. We have some soloists. We have some quartets that are from our chorus,” said Stoltz. “And then we had a trio form as well, from our chorus. We have a lot of talented members within our chorus that break out into little snippets of chorus groups. And that’s what we’d like to do.”

In addition to the performance, the group is running a silent auction to include a fundraising option into the mix.

“Usually when we have a live Christmas concert, we always have gift baskets in a silent auction/live auction, so we decided to do an online silent auction. We have about 45 items – we’ve got a Corvette ride for a couple of hours, which would happen next summer, of course; someone is donating their cottage up in the Muskoka for three nights; we have Beanie Babies, we have necklaces, we have gift certificates to restaurants. So this is a bit of something for everyone.”

A portion of the donations and money raised will go towards Women’s Crisis Services of Waterloo Region. The not-for-profit was chosen since they help support more women in the region, which the choir is passionate about, said Stoltz, noting the recipient was chosen “because we are a women’s group and… part of our value system is that we support other women’s groups that are in need in the community.”

Stoltz encourages everyone to partake in the festive event’s first iteration as a way to get into the holiday mood.

“Tune in to YouTube on December 4 at 5 p.m. and sit back in the comfort of your home, grab a cup of tea or cocoa and enjoy the show – it’s going to be playing all weekend long. As well, our silent auction will be starting actually on the Thursday and running through right ’til Monday at 6 p.m. So just sit back and enjoy, and we hope you feel the Christmas spirit.”

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