One of Dubai’s most popular choirs came together to record a video performance for Christmas.
The 30-strong Christian Voices Chorale usually sings live during festive Mass at St Mary’s Catholic Church in Dubai.
However, Dubai’s Catholic churches have been closed for most of the year since the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic.
That has not stopped the choir, which is predominantly made up of Filipino members, from coming together to record a number of carols and hymns to help raise some Christmas cheer in what has been a difficult year.
“Even though the church is still closed for Christmas we thought it was important to stay connected because people can still pray at home and watch the services,” said Sharon Elaurza, 44, one of the senior members of the choir.
“Christmas is an important ritual in the life of Christians. It is not about shopping and buying expensive gifts. It’s important to remind people of the true meaning of Christmas, which is supporting each other.
“We have a community in the choir who all look out for one another.”
The past year has been a difficult one for most people, with enforced pay cuts, redundancies and not being able to see loved ones because of social distancing and travel restrictions.
Members of Christian Voices Chorale were no different when it came to the effects of the pandemic.
“We had 44 members this time last year but many had to return to their home country because of redundancies,” said the Filipina.
“It has been a challenging year for our members because many of us haven’t been able to see loved ones back home.
"Some of us had close family members die and were unable to travel back for the funerals. That's why we thought it was more important than ever to raise some Christmas spirit and help put a smile on people's faces."
She said that recording the music video was the first time most of the choir had seen each other in person since the pandemic began.
"We used to see each other all the time at rehearsals, but obviously that changed when the churches had to close," Ms Elaurza said.
“It was an amazing opportunity to be able to perform again. It’s certainly been a huge help in terms of mental health.”
Earlier in the year, the choir did a number of performances from home, which were shared online to help boost the morale of frontline workers during the pandemic.
While the choir were able to perform together for the Christmas video, social distancing meant the group was divided into several groups, taking separate shifts to ensure the safety of everyone involved.
The recording sessions were split into two sections with the choir performing together for their music for the Mass, but then performing individually at home for the carols, which will be played before the service.
“It meant so much to us to be able see each other again,” said Filipino Ronald Trinio, 41, who sings baritone in the choir.
“Singing is our passion and it binds us together. It had been almost a year since a lot of us had seen each other.
“It has been a grim year with people losing jobs, having to take pay deductions and having family members pass away. There have been so many trials.”
The financial planner said the project would also allow the choir members to connect with family back home who could watch the Mass online.
“It’s a great way to reach out to people that we haven’t been able to see for one reason or another,” he said.
“Friends and family around the world have told us they are excited to get the chance to watch. It makes us very proud.”
You can watch the live services at 6.30am and 7.30pm from St Mary's Catholic Church online on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day by clicking this link.