Center detail of project promotional image. (source: georgiasymphony.org)

Georgia’s Home for the Holidays builds community, showcases 32 music groups in 35 days

EarRelevant Staff | 27 NOV 2020

This year, the lyrics of a certain popular Holiday song are particularly ironic:

Oh, there’s no place like home for the holidays
‘Cause no matter how far away you roam
If you want to be happy in a million ways
For the holidays you can’t beat home, sweet home. [1]

To address the problems posed to their performing arts ensembles by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, leaders from the Atlanta Master Chorale, the Michael O’Neal Singers and the Georgia Symphony Orchestra came together to organize Georgia’s Home for the Holidays, a 35-day series of seasonal musical videos being presented via YouTube, Facebook, and other social media between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day.

With a new video premiering daily (except for two per day on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day), each of the 5 to 7-minute video features one choral or orchestral group from the area, sharing music of the winter holiday season. The collaborative musical venture involves hundreds of singers and instrumentalists from 32 different ensembles based as far north in Georgia as Gainesville, and as far south as Peachtree City.

Originally intended to provide a virtual performance opportunity for Atlanta-area music organizations who have limited options for sharing their art with audiences during the COVID-19 pandemic, Georgia’s Home for the Holidays has also found purpose in furthering collaboration among the state’s smaller, diverse musical arts organizations during a time when the safety of singing and playing wind and brass instruments before an in-person audience as been brought into question.


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The initial idea for the project originated during an August 2020 Zoom meeting among leaders of area choral groups who were discussing programming concerns. The group, an informal roundtable known as Choral Music of Metro Atlanta (CMMA), exists to foster support and collaboration among the area’s choral community and raise collective awareness of the diverse vocal music organizations available in central and northern Georgia.

During the meeting, Atlanta Master Chorale’s Jim Verrecchia mentioned an idea to the group:

“The holidays are usually the most special and popular concerts for all of us and we are all going to miss them this year. What if we did some kind of holiday collaboration that we could share with all of our patrons?”

There was some general interest in the group and the discussion moved toward trying to create some type of virtual choir. As the discussion progressed, the group discussed the hope to broaden the participation to be more diverse and representative of the Atlanta region.

Following that Zoom meeting, GSO’s Susan Stensland thought the idea of an uplifting, uniting project was an important direction to pursue, in order to enable musical organizations to continue living their missions. She brought the idea to GSO’s music director and accomplished audio-visual engineer, Timothy Verville. They imagined a collaborative series that could showcase each group on a daily basis over the holiday season, and met with Verrecchia to further define the project.

Stensland and Verrecchia presented the idea to Cammie Stephens of The Michael O’Neal Singers, a co-organizer of the choral group where the beginnings of the idea originated. Stephense relates:

“I remember the excitement in Susan’s and Jim’s voices that day. They’d taken a seed of an idea for choral music-making in the COVID-19 situation and developed a plan for our choral and orchestral colleagues to still give holiday performances to our audiences. It felt SO good to finally have something we could do to spread some musical cheer—goodness knows, we all need it!”

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Beginning the morning after Thanksgiving, episodes will premiere daily, then be available for viewing anytime thereafter. Episodes are available on the Georgia Symphony Orchestra’s Facebook and YouTube pages, and at holidays.georgiasymphony.org where viewers may also register to have the videos delivered to them directly via email.

A full list of dates, participating organizations, and repertoire appear below.

Nov. 27 · Atlanta Women’s Chorus, Sleigh Ride
Nov. 28 · Morehouse College Glee Club, De Mornin’ Come
Nov. 29 · Atlanta Master Chorale, O Come, O Come Emmanuel
Nov. 30 · Kinnara, Bogoroditse Devo
Dec. 1 · GSO Chorus & GSO Jazz!, Glory to God in the Highest
Dec. 2. · Atlanta Young Singers, Tomorrow Shall Be My Dancing Day
Dec. 3. · Atlanta Chamber Players, Holiday Medley
Dec. 4 · Big Chicken Chorus, Happy Holidays
Dec. 5 · Cherokee Chorale, Deck the Halls
Dec. 6 · New South Festival Singers, Our Father
Dec. 7 · Song of Atlanta, Sing We Noel
Dec. 8 · Atlanta Music Project, Ave Maria
Dec. 9 · Atlanta Vocal Project, My Night at the Nutcracker
Dec. 10 · Atlanta Young Singers, Boruch Ate
Dec. 11 · Georgia Symphony Orchestra, Hanukkah Suite for String Quartet
Dec. 12 · Lanier Chamber Singers, Glow
Dec. 13 · Greater Atlanta Girls’ Choir, Gaudete
Dec. 14 · Atlanta Gay Men’s Chorus, I am a Carpenter (Joseph’s Story)
Dec. 15 · Choral Guild of Atlanta, The Christmas Waltz
Dec. 16 · Trey Clegg Singers, Three Jazzy Bell Carols
Dec. 17 · Georgia Symphony Orchestra, Holiday Percussion Medley
Dec. 18 · The Michael O’Neal Singers, Festival Gloria
Dec. 19 · Masterworks Chorale, Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas
Dec. 20 · Georgia Boy Choir, The First Noel
Dec. 21 · Johns Creek Chorale, See Amid the Winter’s Snow
Dec. 22 · Alpharetta Community Chorus, Wonderful Peace
Dec. 23 · The Michael O’Neal Singers, I Wish You Christmas
Dec. 24 . Uzee Brown Society of Choraliers, Mary Had A Baby
Dec. 24 · Atlanta Master Chorale, O Holy Night
Dec. 25 · Spivey Hall Children’s Choir, Il est né le divin enfant
Dec. 25 · Our Song, There’s Still My Joy
Dec. 26 · Trey Clegg Singers, What Child is This
Dec. 27 · Georgia Spiritual Ensemble, Rockin’ Jerusalem
Dec. 28 · Southern Crescent Chorale, Bring a Torch, Jeanette, Isabella
Dec. 29 · Festival Singers of Atlanta, A Star
Dec. 30 · Coro Vocati, Three Kings
Dec. 31 · Georgia Symphony Orchestra Quartet, Auld Lang Syne

For more information, visit: holidays.georgiasymphony.org

[1] “There’s No Place Like) Home for the Holidays” – Robert Allen/Al Stillman, ©1954 Universal Music Publishing Group, Carl Fischer, LLC


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