A Very RenMen Christmas – Now Available!

Renaissance Men Records and Releases Holiday Single “Angels We Have Heard on High” despite COVID-19 Pandemic

By Samantha Dotterweich

In early December of last year, Renaissance Men’s annual Christmas gala came and went without a hitch, with a stellar performance, a cooperative audience, and a very large batch of home-made eggnog consumed. More importantly, a series of great raw tracks had been captured. The New England-based professional choral ensemble had hired producer Jeffrey Means (Assistant Professor of Composition, Berklee School of Music) to record the concert with the intention of producing a second album, "A Very RenMen Christmas LIVE!" after the success of their first album, RenMen Laments (on Navona Records/Naxos Direct). Unfortunately, in late February of 2020, Means and RenMen realized that there was a technical problem with the recording of one key piece, Saunder Choi’s tour de force, “Angels We Have Heard on High.”

Just as the group began planning to re-record this last track, the outbreak of COVID-19 brought recording to a standstill. St. Mary's Episcopal Church (Newton, MA) where they had recorded the concert, closed their doors to all groups, meetings, and services. Concert venues canceled their seasons, studios closed their doors, and the world embraced video-conferencing as the only safe means of meeting together. Meanwhile, the deadline to deliver fully mastered tracks to PARMA, the album producer, loomed eight weeks away. With the average post-production work taking about four weeks, RenMen scrambled to find a solution.

The group considered various courses of action, according to Anthony Burkes Garza, Bass and General Manager of RenMen: “With so many normal solutions off the table, we discussed several emerging COVID options, such as the “virtual choir” recordings or multi-tracking with 3-4 singers performing all the parts. We even considered going forward with the album without that track.” The consensus of the management team, however, was that “Angels” was a critical track for the album and its complexity was beyond virtual recording solutions.

“I truly began to lose hope. If we couldn't re-record Choi’s piece, our second album would miss its scheduled release date of November 2020, timed for Christmas sales” said Peter Schilling, Baritone and RenMen’s Business Manager. “We would ultimately have to push the release to Novemb