By George Basler

The COVID-19 pandemic made the last few years challenging ones for the community and the Binghamton Downtown Singers and Orchestra.

“There were people in the choir who absolutely lost someone close to them,” Artistic Director Marisa Crabb said. The choir also was forced to cancel its annual performance of Handel’s Messiah in 2020 and scale back its performance in 2021.

As part of its efforts to return to normal, and bring a sense of closure for the community, the choir will present “A Concert of Healing” at 7:30 p.m. Saturday (June 10) at Sarah  Jane Johnson Memorial United Methodist Church in Johnson City.

The concert’s purpose is to both memorialize the deceased and honor the frontline workers who labored to protect us during the pandemic, a release from the choir states.

Under Crabb’s direction, the 83-member choir will perform Johannes Brahms’ A German Requiem and Dan Forrest’s Requiem for the Living. Forrest, an internationally known composer, is a native of Breesport in Chemung County.

The music could give audience members a renewed sense of hope for dealing with difficulties they’re experiencing in their lives, Crabb said. She also hopes attendees will gain “an appreciation for the great musicians we have in the community.”

Accompanying the volunteer choir will be a 44-member orchestra with professional musicians coming from the Cayuga Chamber Orchestra, the Binghamton Philharmonic, the Orchestra of the Southern Finger Lakes and Symphonie Syracuse, Crabb said. Featured soloists ae Julia Ebner, soprano; Timothy LeFebvre, baritone; Ana Stoye, child soprano, and Dann Coakwell, tenor.

The Binghamton Downtown Singers picked the two pieces because, unlike traditional requiems that offer prayers for the dead, these works focus on offering comfort to the living. “That makes them appropriate for this day and time,” Crabb said.

Also, both pieces are melodically beautiful and “pleasing to the ear,” Crabb said. “If someone doesn’t normally attend live choral music, this is the one you want to go to because of the feeling it evokes,” she emphasized.

Funding for the concert will come from a variety of sources including a grant from the Arts and Culture Fund of the Community Foundation of South Central New York and public funds from the Statewide Community Regrants Program, a program of the state Council on the Arts administered by the Earlville Opera House. Additional support came from the Stewart W. and Wilma C. Hoyt Foundation, the Ahearn Foundation and a grant from the Broome County Arts Council’s United Cultural Fund.

IF YOU GO: The Binghamton Downtown Singers will perform “A Concert for Healing” at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday (June 10) in the sanctuary of Sarah Jane Johnson Memorial United Methodist Church, 308 Main St., Johnson City. General admission tickets at $20 can be purchased online at, by calling 607-205-8741 or at the door. One free student admission is allowed with each purchase of a full price general admission ticket.