On Saturday evening, Island Community Chorus musical director Peter Boak took the stage at the Old Whaling Church and welcomed the audience with two words: “We’re back.”

The performances on Saturday evening and Sunday afternoon marked the first time the chorus has performed publicly together since December 2019. The shows also celebrated the 25th anniversary for the choral group.

For Mr. Boak, accompanist L. Garrett Brown, and the singers, the path back to the stage after a pandemic hiatus began last summer. Mr. Boak monitored the number and nature of Covid cases, receiving up-to-date information from a chorus member active on the Oak Bluffs board of health. He also spoke with similar musical groups on the Cape and with leaders of other on-Island church choirs, taking extra precautions due to the potential contagious nature of a large chorus standing shoulder-to-shoulder while singing.

Musical director Peter Boak welcomed the audience. — Mark Alan Lovewell

When a return to fall rehearsals seemed feasible, he began searching through a library of 160 titles in search of music to be considered for performance. Since he didn’t know how many singers would return and how many would be singing each vocal part, Mr. Boak chose songs that could be adjusted in response to the number of sopranos, altos, tenors and basses participating. Rehearsals began outdoors at the Tabernacle in September before moving to Trinity Methodist Church. By concert time on Saturday, the chorus consisted of 60 singers, 10 of whom are new members, joining in September.

Patti Linn, a chorus member for approximately 20 years, remarked after the concert on how much the chorus feels like a family. The singers rehearsed and performed together during the fall while masked. Due to the difficulty of singing through a mask, some singers wore a plastic device inside their masks during practice to create space between their faces and the masks as a means of supporting easier breath and allowing for more sound and volume.

Choral group rehearsed all fall outdoors. — Mark Alan Lovewell

The concerts featured eight pieces of music ranging from a Welsh lullaby, a traditional French carol, and a piece of liturgical music dating to the 14th century. Solos were performed by sopranos Molly Conole, Jenny Friedman and Shea Fea. Ms. Conole accompanied the chorus on flute for the closing number, Auld Lang Syne.

Mr. Boak artfully led the singers while also working in partnership with Mr. Brown on piano.

Two selections in particular resonated with audience members, one a familiar holiday classic and the other a new work commissioned for the performance. The chorus premiered the song Toward the Dawn, a new work with music and lyrics by Thomas LaVoy, an American composer who collaborated with the chorus in 2019 on music featuring the writing of Nancy Luce. The piece had been commissioned for the 25th anniversary and planning began prior to the pandemic. In a letter written by Dr. LaVoy and read to the audience by Mr. Boak, the composer described finding peace in his memories of the view of the Edgartown lighthouse and the light beyond it. Those memories provided him with reassurance that a brighter day will come.

That optimism carries through the song with lyrics including, ‘Sing me a song when all the world is a sea of wrong...Find me a way through the dark towards the dawn...The dawn will carry you home.’

Jenny Friedman, Molly Conole and Shea Fee. — Mark Alan Lovewell

The four vocal parts moved beautifully together and apart in waves. The high piano notes on which the song ends shimmered under Mr. Brown’s fingertips.

Christmas arrived a little early for concertgoers in the form of a present from Mr. Boak and the singers. Perpetual favorite Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas was, Mr. Boak announced, one of the first songs he knew would be on the roster for the holiday 2021 concerts. Its lyrics about faithful friends and hoping that all will be together during the holidays resonated deeply after two seasons without performances.

At the concert’s closing, Mr. Boak thanked the audience for its faithfulness over the previous 25 years. Judging by the audience’s energy and enthusiasm, the sentiments were mutual.

More pictures.