Santa Rosa High choir alumni reunite with former director for virtual performance amid pandemic

Santa Rosa High choir alumni recorded a version of "The Lord Bless You and Keep You."|

Cassady Glass Hastings didn't expect her Instagram post about a Santa Rosa High choir reunion to reach hundreds of alumni or spur a virtual performance.

Glass Hastings, who graduated in 1999 and now lives in Seattle, initially thought the post would lead to a "little virtual choir reunion" during the pandemic, she said. Instead nearly 300 alumni responded, and 183 of them recorded a rendition of "The Lord Bless You And Keep You" from their homes.

The performance was posted to YouTube, where it has been watched more than 9,000 times.

“The main goal is to gather, catch-up and make music,” Glass Hastings wrote in an email. “If we end up with a beautiful recording, that's a bonus.”

The alumni chose "The Lord Bless You And Keep You" because they performed it at several graduation ceremonies with former director Dan Earl, who led the choir from 1977 to 2005.

Earl said that he was inspired by his former students' ability to organize during a time of crisis.

“It is a testament to their understanding of how powerful music is and how impactful their high school singing experience was, though they may not have known at the time,” Earl wrote in an email. “They had a need to reconnect with each other.”

But bringing together the performance's visual and auditory elements wasn't as simple as meeting over Zoom and singing together, said Ryan Brady, the Santa Rosa High alumni and Boston resident who edited the video.

Each choir member individually recorded and uploaded their part. Brady instructed them to clap at the beginning of each video, so it would be easier to sync the recordings.

“Fostering that connection and allowing us all to revisit the magical years of music making we shared with Dan Earl has been a very special part of this project,” Brady wrote in an email. “In the end, I'm really proud of what we put out and I think the world really needs some uplifting and inspiring content right now.”

Glass Hastings hopes that the virtual performance will bring people joy amid uncertainty.

“Music is a salve for the soul for many people," she wrote. "The video is a beautiful visual reminder that we are not alone.”

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