Car choir performs for retirement home at first off-campus show

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The Chemeketa Car Choir started earlier this year to allow student singers to perform in safety. On Sunday, they performed in front of hundreds of residents of Capital Manor in a welcome respite from a year of isolation at the nursing home.

The Chemeketa Car Choir performed for residents at Capital Manor on Sunday April 11. (Courtesy / Ken Porter)

The Chemeketa Community College Automobile Choir had its largest audience yet on Sunday as the singers put on their show on the road to Capital Manor in western Salem.

There, hundreds of nursing home residents could turn on their closed-circuit television channel to hear students perform Irish and Scottish songs over a photo slideshow.

Below, eight students sang from inside their car into a microphone that streams wirelessly to a mixer, which collects the voices, and then plays the song back on the shortwave radio and the TV station.

“They were so excited,” choir director Kerry Burtis said of the residents. “Capital Manor has been a huge supporter of the college and it was a natural fit for me when I decided to take this show on the road.”

He said it was the choir’s first performance off campus after starting the program in January. The choir had a spring concert in March on campus and are planning to have another concert at Capital Manor in June.

A video of the Car Choir performing at Capital Manor. (Courtesy/Bryce Tomlin)

During the show, Burtis said some residents waved to their windows, grateful for the entertainment after a year spent indoors.

Even though the performers couldn’t interact with the audience or hear the applause, Burtis said he always spoke to residents between songs.

“It was a live event. It was a big event, ”he said.

After the show, Linda Burks, resident life coordinator at Capital Manor, emailed Burtis to let her know how thrilled she was with the sound of the show.

“From your vocals to the singers and the instruments, everything went wonderfully well. It was a fun selection of numbers that appealed to the crowd and your choir and soloists made the music with pride. Hope you and the choir enjoyed playing for us as much as we enjoyed having you. Since we have a community of just under 500, I suspect your audience numbered in the hundreds even if you couldn’t see them or hear their applause, ”Burks wrote.

A video of the Car Choir performing at Capital Manor. (Courtesy/Bryce Tomlin)

The Chemeketa Car Choir performed for residents at Capital Manor on Sunday April 11. (Courtesy / Ken Porter)

Contact reporter Saphara Harrell at 503-549-6250, [email protected]

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