Updated: Sep 1, 2021
As the world went into lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Affinity, like every other person/organisation in the performance industry, was suddenly plunged into the unknown in March 2020. With things looking uncertain for the future, our Musical Director Diane knew that she wanted Affinity to keep going and for our community to help each other through difficult times.
Being a diverse choir with individuals from many different backgrounds we suddenly found that our members faced many different situations. We have a number of 'Key Workers', those who suddenly found themselves teaching children at home, those who were furloughed or unable to work due to the pandemic and those who found themselves leaving Cardiff to return to family homes around the world. During a time of such great change Affinity wanted to offer a sense of 'normality' and routine by continuing to be a presence in the lives of the members. Within a few weeks of 'Lockdown 1.0' we were meeting on Zoom, continuing to battle with our musical repertoire and sharing lockdown stories from our living rooms (not so much to the delight of our partners/parents/children/pets/neighbours)!
In August 2020, after months of online 'Zoom' rehearsals, Affinity produced their first 'virtual' choir video - a version of Disney favourite 'Colours of the Wind' arranged by Diane Wright. With thousands of views online we were thrilled with the response, and more good news came when we were able to secure an outside rehearsal spot where we could sing together with the lifting of some restrictions! The outside space in Bute Park we had access to was ideal for some summer evening socially distanced singing and it was wonderful to hear harmonies for the first time in what felt like forever! Unfortunately, the weather wasn't on our side and restrictions on meeting indoors remained in place so as we moved into September we faced the prospect of returning to 'Zoom' rehearsals.
Going into Autumn 2020 it seemed like another lockdown was imminent, and as 'local lockdowns' eventually took hold of Cardiff and surrounding areas we turned our attention to Christmas - and set ourselves the monumental task of producing a whole Christmas concert virtually! Affinity always start working on Christmas repertoire in September, however somehow it seemed more strange donning a Christmas jumper and singing festive tunes alone in our homes. After many debates about the appropriate amount of Christmas headgear for each song and whether flashing Christmas decorations in the background of the videos would be a distraction, our members completed their individual recordings for each of the songs and we sent them off to the capable hands of COBRA Music Studios, who completed the music and video editing for various virtual projects throughout the lockdowns. They did a fantastic job and we couldn't wait to share the finished videos with our friends, family and supporters. We arranged a 'Zoom' concert and invited everyone to come along for an evening of entertaining (from their sofas!).
Our Christmas concert was an overwhelming success with many choir members and members of the audience reporting that it was one of the highlights of their year! Following the concert we published our videos on social media and YouTube in the countdown to Christmas to spread a little Christmas cheer while everything else around us seemed definitively gloomy with tough restrictions on celebrations.
After Christmas with no end to Lockdown 2.0 in sight, Affinity decided to embark upon yet another ambitious project for the spring. This time we decided to widen the scope of the project and invited past members, new members friends and family to join us in producing another set of virtual videos including a monumental 23 minute long medley of songs from the musical Les Misérables, arranged by Musical Director Diane. It was great to have mums, daughters, new members and old friends join us virtually from all corners of the UK. Along with the Les Mis medley we also performed our Star Wars medley originally arranged by Diane for the 2018 Disney concert, so it seemed appropriate that we should showcase our spring project on Star Wars day - 4th May! It was great to see so many familiar and new faces on the screen and 4th May served as a brilliant end (hopefully!!!) to Affinity's virtual journey.