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Quarantine comfort: New Mexico Gay Men’s Chorus streams joy with ‘Home for the Holidays’

The New Mexico Gay Men’s Chorus, conducted by Aaron Howe.

The title is intentional.

In a nod to the quarantined, “Home for the Holidays” is the New Mexico Gay Men’s Chorus’ attempt at bringing a cup of audio comfort to its listeners during the pandemic.

Scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 12, and 3 p.m. on Sunday, Dec. 13, these virtual concerts of holiday favorites are free, with donations encouraged at nmgmc.org.

Artistic Director Aaron Howe decided on a virtual season months ago. Leading a virtual choir has had its challenges.

“I’ve been getting used to it,” he said. “We started working on this transition back in April. None of us had experience, so we had to learn it from scratch.”

The singers are recording their individual parts through Zoom, he said.

“Then we mix that together, and it sounds like a chorus.”

For his part, Howe had to learn software programs, video editing and sound mixing.

“Normally, we push and push toward the end performance,” he said. “Now, we’re performing as we go.”

Howe scoured past programs to pinpoint what he considered the strongest performances.

This year’s lineup features favorites such as “O Holy Night” and “Silver Bells,” as well as lesser-known works and a mashup of “Lo How a Rose Are Blooming” with “The Rose,” as well as “Believe” from “The Polar Express.”

Listening and recording their own vocals has proved to be somewhat of a challenge to some choristers, Howe said.

“They talk about it – how they hate the video or send me emails,” he said. “I say, ‘Don’t be critical of yourself.’ Even in performance, nothing is perfect. It actually all blends into a whole.”

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