A Hark Up Twist For a Virtual Christmas

Written by Terry DeBoer on . Posted in Local

Hark Up virtual logoIn this crazy, pandemic year of 2020, it actually makes sense.

In order to proceed with its annual Christmas music production, "Hark Up" is going virtual.

"We've been recording and filming over the last month and everything should be ready to go soon," said Hark Up executive director Chris Hansen.

"A Virtual Hark Up Christmas" will be a combination of studio and on-location video, with narration and even snippets from performances of past years.
It's set to debut at 7:30pm Sat. Dec. 5 .

The opening segment is new. It's a parody version of "You Can't Stop the Beat," borrowed from the musical "Hairspray." "It ends up as 'You can't stop Hark Up,'" Hansen noted of its "continuous shot" video style with dancers and singers.

The new-look production designed for online viewing contains many of the artists and crew involved in years past, some of whom have been on board for most of Hark Up's 21-year run.

Bob Wells, Colin Tobin, and Shannon Dykstra all perform, as do co-producers Geoff Hansen and Breighanna Minnema, and others.

Their preparations have dealt with COVID-19 restrictions and safety precautions.

"We couldn't bring the whole choir into the studio to record," he said of their main outpost at Third Coast Studios in Grand Haven. "But we've also done remote recording with the singers spaced out and following all the rules."


Singer Colin Tobin of Hark Up-1Singer Colin Tobin is back this year"O Holy Night" (with Shannon Dykstra soloing), "Silent Night" and "Joy to the World" are all returning in this year's presentation. And there's some lighter fare, such as the wintry "Sleigh Ride."

Hark Up borrowed a song ("You Will Be Found") from yet another stage musical and created a parody version.
"The message there will bring it down to Christ," said Hansen. "We've done a whole new audio and video treatment for it."

The pandemic has slimmed down the usually massive choir to less than 40 voices. There are child performers, but no children's choir this year.

"Really, we have to give a big shout out to lots of new people who stepped up on the production end of things," Hansen noted of additional video and technical crew members called upon to make the transition to virtual.

Scott Pederson continues as creative director as well as executive producer.

Although without the immediacy of a completely live stage show, the mixing and editing along with other creative touches will make it an attractive final package for online viewing.

"We went 'round and 'round about whether to add live elements during the showing," Hansen said. "But for the integrity of our online tools (Youtube, Facebook and the Hark Up website) we wanted to make sure nothing went wrong: we didn't want to mix and match."

That means they should have a product to re-stream online for those who may miss the Dec. 5 debut.


There are still expenses involved with this "Virtual Hark Up," although different than in the past, especially in recording and video production. Some donors have come forward to get things off the ground. "Although the online presentation is free to everybody, we will be asking for viewers to make a donation. If you like what you're seeing, you can click a button. Hopefully with that we'll be able to balance things out at the end," said Hansen.

The artists have done some rehearsing and video work at the "Koop Barn" a large indoor space on a Hudsonville area farm. A Sunday evening "Church of the Open Barn" meets there and Hark Up musicians regularly supply the music.

One video segment yet to be completed provides a unique setting for "Silent Night." "We'll have the choir out at the farm in the middle of the night with light on them singing in the pasture to the cows," he hinted. "We think it'll turn out fine."

"A Virtual Hark Up Christmas"
7:30pm Sat. Dec. 5
You can see the production on three platforms:
1. Facebook. Make sure you have "liked" Hark Up Music and link to https://www.facebook.com/harkupmusic
2. Youtube: Subscribe to the Hark Up Music channel on Youtube. Then link https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=Hark+Up+Music
3. Hark Up's own website: www.harkup.com/christmas
----The presentation is free to all, but donations will be received via https://www.mightycause.com/story/Xmas2020

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Author Information
Terry DeBoer
Author: Terry DeBoer
Terry is a journalist/feature writer for newspapers, magazines and websites, with a background in radio broadcasting. His usual beat is arts and entertainment, specializing in Christian/gospel music. A married father of two, he is based in Grand Rapids, Michigan Contributing Writer: West Michigan Christian News August 2011 – Present Feature writer: -Mlive.com (website and various newspapers) 1988– 2016 -Spotlight New Christian Music Magazine 1997-2008 -Church News Editor, Church Herald Magazine 2004-2009

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