The Sierra Vista Community Chorus is under the direction of Roger Bayes, center.

SIERRA VISTA — Every year the Sierra Vista Community Chorus rings in the holiday season with the joyous gift of music.

The Christmas production and other shows in 2021 were canceled when COVID forced the chorus to shut down for about 18 months. The all-volunteer chorus is now performing again by kicking off with a Christmas Concert on Dec. 3 at First Baptist Church, 1447 S. Seventh St.

“Last year was especially tough for all of us because we lost our beloved director of 20 years, Sharon Keene, who died after a seven-month battle with cancer,” said Linda Gilbert, the group’s publicity chair. “We were devastated about losing Sharon, but are excited that we’re able to perform again with Roger Bayes as our new director.”

One of the hallmarks of Keene’s Christmas concert was performing “Why We Sing,” said Bayes, who plans to open the production with that song as a tribute to the former director.

“I’m excited about directing this group,” Bayes said of the chorus. “Sharon Keane has left an enormous legacy. She has fed into and instilled a love of singing that has kept many in our community together even during the separation caused by COVID. The organization is top notch, and I get to have fun making music with a really great group of people.”

In preparation of the Christmas production, every Monday the chorus goes through a 90-minute rehearsal.

Along with the full chorus, there are smaller ensembles such as the women’s barbershop chorus and High Desert Sound in addition to a quartet called the Highlighters.

“It is our hope that other ensembles will form into new groups as time goes by,” said Gilbert, who directs High Desert Sound and sings with the Highlighters quartet with Mary Sperry, Patti Ledbetter and Martha Conklin.

“A year ago, during the pandemic, we had no way of knowing if our chorus would survive," Gilbert said. "But many people wanted to keep the chorus going, and it was Sharon’s dying wish that we continue performing. We’re so grateful and blessed that Roger Bayes has taken the helm as director. I invite the community to come to our concert and celebrate the Christmas season with us. Our chorus lives on in Sharon’s honor.”