Aspen Choral Society’s 43rd annual season of Messiah is being created as a virtual, “360” event. The innovative performance using Roaring Fork Valley scenes will be released Wednesday, December 23rd at 7:00pm MST.  

Aspen, CO… The 43rd consecutive performance of the Messiah will take place this year as an innovative, “360” virtual choir event. Despite the COVID-19 virus, which has devastated choir performances all over the nation, the Roaring Fork Valley performance of the Messiah is not going away.  The Aspen Choral Society has been performing the holiday favorite in Aspen, Basalt and Glenwood Springs since 1977, and this year will be no exception.

ACS Music Director Paul Dankers is not only a talented musician and choral director, but also excels in the technical skills required to craft this type of virtual choir experience. “We knew we had to do something unique to maintain our long tradition of Messiah performances while also doing our part to keep our singers and community safe,” says Dankers. “Messiah is not only a local holiday favorite, but an essential experience for our outstanding vocal and instrumental musicians. We couldn’t miss it because of COVID,” he continues.

Due to COVID-19 social distancing restrictions and the high risk of transmission in choirs, this year’s Messiah will offer an innovative twist on the beloved performance, inspired by the emergence of virtual choirs on YouTube and other online outlets. Unlike other static or electronically-generated backgrounds seen in many virtual choirs, Aspen Choral Society is taking advantage of the scenic Roaring Fork Valley to provide the backgrounds and visual effects that will add dimension to the recorded voices of the choir members. In addition, Dankers is using technology that will allow the viewer to experience the choir performance in 360o. Production is already underway and the program will be released on the Aspen Choral Society’s YouTube channel on Wednesday, December 23rd at 7:00pm MST.

“Historically, our in-person rehearsals have always been very efficient – we gather, warm up, quiet our minds, and sing. This type of professionalism, which has always been displayed by the choir, has aided us in our transition from a social choir to a virtual one,” continued Dankers. He hopes that ACS’s movement to a virtual platform this season allows its music to reach beyond the Roaring Fork Valley to a broader, more diverse audience than in the past. The new experience of creating Messiah 360 this year has another advantage, says Dankers.  “I’ve been so fortunate to get to know so many of our members on a more individual basis, working one-on-one rather than in a large group.”

Tamela Kenning echoed Dankers’ excitement for the virtual choir. “Our ACS musicians have embraced this opportunity to sing together even though we can’t meet in person. It is our shared love of tradition and musicianship, and a commitment to each other that is driving everyone’s willingness and courage to try something new.  It’s thrilling to be part of it,” says Kenning.