Artists at large, whether amateur, professional or occasional that perform in an art-form that supposes a public contact or attendance were hit hard during those soon-to-be two years of pandemic restrictions and confinement periods; some resorted to online presentations to give themselves the illusion of a public at large; pro hockey even used cardboards personifications and pre-recorded music, boos and cheers to give TV audiences the semblance of the normal noises of an authentic game. With the slow re-opening of art, sport and leisure venues, a certain normality seems to be progressively ahead although many of us are still reluctant to set foot in crowd-packed restaurants, cinemas, bars, churches. Maybe eventually, our pre-2020 life will be back with a flash: it will only take a few words on international TV, social media and the web by world medical officers: IT’S OVER!
Local singers, choir groups and bands were seriously affected by the situation: some were grounded for long months, an eternity in this business, resulting in voices dropping one/two keys by lack of vocal chords exercise; some may have developed new interests, have taken new jobs; unfortunately, some may not have survived. The last few months, as authorization to meet outside one’s immediate family has been granted, weekly practice sessions have re-opened and shows have been put together for the upcoming Christmas season.
On Saturday December 4, the Ste. Anne de Prescott parish council invited Mr. Didier Chasteau, a well-known composer and jazz pianist; he performed some of his best jazz music to an appreciative audience; guests singers were Christiane Falardeau-Picard who recited the 1934 Christmas poem ‘Quand la Charlotte prie Notre-Dame’ while her daughter Catherine performed a jazzy version of ‘The Good Life’. The crowd of approximately 55 participated happily in a bilingual Christmas singalong!
On Friday December 3, the CROONEUX, a bilingual male-quartet of local seniors, performed their Celebration 2021 concert at the St. Jean Baptiste Catholic church in L’Orignal. Although a typical holiday season concert that included many of the Christmas time favorites, this concert was basically a celebration: of life, of happiness, of health, faith, home, community, world peace… The group offered revenues from the concert to help with the parish’s winter expenses. A little over 120 people were in attendance and offered a standing ovation to their parish priest, Pierre Domerson, who performed a traditional creole Christmas song from his native Haiti and therefore earned the official nick-name of ‘Baby-Crooneux’! From crooners’ classics (Bing Crosby, Michael Buble, Johnny Mathis, Tony Bennett) to international French stars (Enrico Macias, Johnny Hallyday, Gilles Vigneault, Jean-Pierre Ferland), the show closed on a bilingual parody of the Blues Brothers’ interpretation of Elvis’s Blue Christmas celebration…at Tim Hortons! Thank you all for being there and raising 1755$ for your parish!
On Saturday December 11, ditto for the CROONEUX at the St. Victor Catholic church in Alfred. This was their second stint at the church within a few months as they were also part of the ALFRED150 celebrations in the fall. But OOOPS! Fifteen minutes or so before showtime, a major power outage hit the Alfred-Plantagenet area…The Crooneux sang a few songs a capella under the lights of cell phones and candles to keep the crowd entertained until power came back on…but it didn’t and they ended up offering their whole repertoire, sometimes accompanied by accordion, guitar and by guests singers from the parish! What a wonderful evening! COMING UP…The Crooneux recently agreed to sponsor local para-athlete Joey Desjardins in his quest to participate in Paris 2024 Paralympic games: a special event to that effect will soon be organized and advertised on social media. Contact email: Crooneux@gmail.com
On the same night at the St. Gregoire de Naziance Catholic church in Vankleek Hill, the VOIXLÀ RÉTRO singers performed their annual Christmas concert, now a tradition for many years in support of their parish. Christiane Falardeau-Picard, the group’s choirmaster, said that in spite of unfavorable weather conditions, 60+ people were in attendance and participated cheerfully with masks on and within all health-recommended regulations. Father Pierre Domerson continued on his ‘parish tour’ and performed a typical Haitian ‘Nowel’ song with the group; in the tradition of Christmas concerts, the singers of Voixlà Retro performed an international medley of songs from England, Ireland, Germany, Hawaii, the Caribbeans and from typical Quebec’s folklore repertoire. Overall, added Mrs. Falardeau-Picard, a very enjoyable evening for all!