Abu Dhabi: As Christian communities begin preparing for the holiday season in the UAE, the Abu Dhabi Choral Group has done its part to get everyone in the yuletide spirit through a series of festive concerts, the last of which was performed on Wednesday.
"We had two performances on Saturday [December 12] at St Andrew's Church. It was raining that day, so turnout for the morning performance was not as high as the evening one.
"We decided to donate the proceeds of our ticket sales to the church, especially as they had been very nice to allow us to perform concerts there in the past," Jennifer Caldwell, Chair of the Abu Dhabi Choral Group, said.
"Our second concert was on Wednesday [December 17] at the Armed Officer's Club. We generally sing a mix of contemporary and Christmas songs," she added.
Do you have any hidden talents? Are you participating in any Christmas activities this year?
The choral group has been a part Abu Dhabi's diverse expatriate community for over 33 years, and has amassed a mailing list of approximately 300 members.
"We are an open choir, so if you love to sing and can do that in tune then you're more than welcome to join," Jennifer said.
"In the group there are people like me, who love to sing but don't know how to read music notes and are just learning how to, and then we have professional singers, including music teachers who joined after hearing about us from other teachers. Also, you will find some members who had joined 15 years ago now coming back to perform with us," she added.
While the choral group only has two main performances that are staged every year; a series of winter concerts and a spring musical, a lot of effort is put into them to ensure they are as successful as possible.
"We usually practice once a week because we all have day jobs, but we add extra sessions when it's time to stage our winter concerts. For our plays, it takes about three to four months to complete everything because there are many factors that we have to consider.
"Last year we performed Music Man by Meredith Wilson and received great feedback from those who came to watch. Some were surprised at how good we are... but I think they recognise the hard work we all put in," Caldwell explained.
"I remember two years ago I was cast in a lead role for one of the plays and had to sing a duet with another lead character.
"Suddenly, we both forgot the words to the song at the same time! While the music was playing, we just looked at each other and burst into laughter. And just our luck, it was on a night the play was being filmed," she added.
Because the Abu Dhabi Choral Group in a non-profit organisation, it constantly faces challenges such as finding locations, because they have to pay to rent out the space to perform, and financing because while they require every member to pay a nominal fee, they always try to recruit corporate sponsors for their spring musicals.
Also, there is the dilemma of what to do about the props and costumes left over from their productions.
For now, a member whose husband owns a warehouse had generously allowed them to store everything there.
"I would love to see the group have a permanent home. Once we no longer have to worry about things such as finding a venue, I'm sure that it will cause a ripple effect through everything," Jennifer said. "But we're doing pretty well so far for an amateur group."
- Who: Abu Dhabi Choral Group
- What: Community performance group, who are passionate about singing and all things music. They sing in four-part harmony and are accompanied by a pianist.
- When: Weekly rehearsals are held Tuesdays from 7.30-10 pm at The British School Al Khubairat.
- Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org