By Sam Robinson
In March, Pub Choir founder Astrid Jorgensen found herself in the US, ready to start a run of her special shows, where audiences learn a three-part harmony and sing a song as one by the end of the night.
These shows are a monthly occurrence in Brisbane and the excitement was building for a global tour. That was, until COVID-19 was declared a pandemic, and Astrid and her team were scrambling to find a flight home.
“It did feel like we were reaching a peak. It feels painful to think about it,” Astrid said.
“We were selling out shows right around the world, it was my full-time job at this point, and not a good time to be in America. Not a good time to be hosting singing events with packed pubs – thousands of people come to the show. And it transpires that’s the worst thing you can do in COVID times.”
With no prospect of income – or anything to do, really – Astrid thought of a new way of enabling those around the world to still sing together and the virtual choir, known as Couch Choir, was born.
Just like in a Pub Choir show, Astrid teaches a simple three-part harmony and then it’s over to each individual to film themselves singing alone before uploading the video to be mixed together with thousands of others into a virtual performance.
Couch Choir’s most recent performance is a Christmas tune – 2800 singers from 50 countries singing a version of Mariah Carey’s All I Want For Christmas Is You.
Opening with a beautiful solo from 11-year-old Canadian Sophia Pearce, those taking part include 30 members of the Queensland Symphony Orchestra and former Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd. Couch Choir is also encouraging people inspired by the video to give to Givit – an Australian charity that helps families in need at Christmas – with the aim of raising $50,000.
Astrid is passionate about getting everyone singing, no matter the ability.
“It’s not really about being better, it’s about being part of it. When each session starts, I just sing the most clean version of what I want people at home to do. When I arrange the song I always try to make it as accessible as possible,” she said.
“It’s not about how good your individual performance is. I really need to get rid of this idea that ‘choir’ is about them. It’s not, it’s about us. Choir is a team sport. You’re part of something bigger than yourself. We just need your voice to be an ingredient.”
To find out more about Couch Choir, or to contribute to Givit, visit couchchoir.com.