Maxey cancels Christmas Cantata

Ken Kellar

A highlight during the holiday season, this year’s Christmas Cantata is not to be.

Diane Maxey made the decision to cancel the annual Christmas tradition last week, saying in a call to the Times that it was a sad decision to make, but not a difficult one.

“It’s for the safety of everyone,” Maxey said.

“There are so many unknowns, and we have no idea about what’s going to happen with the border.”

Maxey’s Christmas Cantata is a long-running tradition in the borderland, usually comprising a handful of performances both in Fort Frances and the United States, which would be a complicated affair in the event that there are still restrictions around international travel come the holiday season. Both the Fort Frances and International Falls shows have been cancelled, Maxey confirmed.

Maxey noted that her concerns extended to the audience as well as her singers, with choral singing being an activity that is discouraged by health organizations during the COVID-19 pandemic due to the increased risk of transmission through the act of singing. She also noted that it would be difficult to have 70+ singers onstage together while still adhering to physical distancing requirments, and adding the necessity for risers to ensure everyone is able to be seen and heard makes that task even more difficult.

Even if physical distancing requirements are eased before then, Maxey said she felt that other restrictions could still be in place.

“I don’t want to have a choir of seventy-some people up on stage trying to sing wearing masks,” she said.

Maxey said she’s in the process of calling each of her choir members personally to inform them of her decision, and even though she’s disappointed to have to call it off this year, she is committed to getting the choir back to performances next year.

“This is the first time in years that the choir hasn’t run,” Maxey said.

“I feel in my heart this is the right thing to do. It really is for the safety of everyone. I hope that things will start to settle soon and we’ll get back to our new normal.”